The Coronavirus is Mutating
Back when the researchers first analyzed the genome of a brand new coronavirus in Wuhan. Three weeks later, researchers sequenced the genome of the same virus in a patient in Seattle. It has changed, and these changes are happening all over the world. The coronavirus has mutated hundreds of times since January. Still, researchers are concerned about one mutation, in particular, so the question is. Is CoronaVirus becoming more dangerous? Well, there are two ways one can think about the danger. First is if the virus causes more severe disease, and that appears to be the case. The second way the mutation could make the virus dangerous is if it becomes more contagious.
But before we get there, here's good news, most mutations in the coronavirus and also in every virus don't actually change how it behaves in our bodies at all. Most modifications do not change very much. They actually are just part of the process of sort selection, and they go away. At its most basic, a virus is just a bunch of genetic material packed in a protein shell. In the case of genetic material is RNA. Which is made up of four nucleotide bases. You might remember the station's A, C, T, G from DNA. With Rna, it's Just U and T. when the virus gets into your body, its goal is to copy itself. Which means it needs to produce more RNA and more proteins.
A virus doesn't always make an exact copy of its RNA. When it makes a random mistake in that copying process, that's a mutation. However, it's when it's copying the proteins that things really get interesting. Within that nearly replicated RNA, each nucleotide called a codon can instruct your cells to produce one building block of a protein called an amino acid. Amino acids come with a letter name too. D, G, Y, I- you get the idea. Different amino acid combinations mean different proteins, but several different codons encode for the same amino acid as it turns out. So, say the nucleotides "ACU" mutated into ACG, it's still going to tell your cell to produce the same amino acid. T this mutation does not change the protein at all. We call those silent mutations. But even if it's a non-silent mutation, something actually changes the amino acid and changes. The protein doesn't always necessarily alter how a virus behaves in our bodies.