Rigidity of the Outer Shell Predicted by a Protein Intrinsic Disorder Model Sheds Light on the COVID-19 (Wuhan-2019-nCoV) Infectivity

Gerard Kian-Meng Goh, A Keith Dunker, James A Foster, Vladimir N Uversky
Biomolecules 2020 February 19, 10 (2)
The world is currently witnessing an outbreak of a new coronavirus spreading quickly across China and affecting at least 24 other countries. With almost 65,000 infected, a worldwide death toll of at least 1370 (as of 14 February 2020), and with the potential to affect up to two-thirds of the world population, COVID-19 is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a global health emergency. The speed of spread and infectivity of COVID-19 (also known as Wuhan-2019-nCoV) are dramatically exceeding those of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). In fact, since September 2012, the WHO has been notified of 2494 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, whereas the 2002-2003 epidemic of SARS affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8000 cases. Therefore, although SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 are all the result of coronaviral infections, the causes of the coronaviruses differ dramatically in their transmissibility. It is likely that these differences in infectivity of coronaviruses can be attributed to the differences in the rigidity of their shells which can be evaluated using computational tools for predicting intrinsic disorder predisposition of the corresponding viral proteins.

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