Coronavirus Genome Now On UCSC Genome Browser
The genetic code of the deadly Wuhan pneumonia virus, the coronavirus, is now available to view on the UCSC Genome Browser. With nearly 41,000 cases and 910 deaths to date, the deadly virus has forced more than 50 million people to be quarantined by the Chinese government in an aim to stop the spread of the virus.
The virus consists of a single-stranded RNA with 29,903 nucleotides making up 10 individual genes.
The UCSC Genome Browser is an online and downloadable genome browser hosted by the University of California, Santa Cruz and used by researchers to analyse the genomes of multiple organisms such as humans, other vertebrates and model organism assemblies. With the coronavirus now available on their platform, more researchers across the world are now able to view it and possibly devise any methods to help combat the virus.
The genetic code has been sent to the worldwide repository of genomic information at the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Bioinformatics (NCBI) in Bethesda, Maryland, and have named the virus 2019-nCoV.
“The NCBI is a worldwide repository established in the very early days of genomics,” said UCSC Genome Browser Engineer Hiram Clawson. “When people find novel viruses, they send them to the NCBI, and the NCBI assigns them a name and number so everyone can refer to an exact specimen. Once they’ve processed the genomic information, it’s made available to the world from the database.”
Then UCSC Genome Browser then uses this information to display a visual representation of the virus, and the CRISPR track on the browser can allow researchers to see where the genetic code could be cut and edited.
One gene in the virus encodes for a large spike protein which helps it attach onto human cells and hijack their cellular machinery to replicate. Targeting this protein could potentially make the protein more or less virulent, and with the virus’s genetic code now available for researchers to view around the world, finding methods to attack it may become clearer.
View the coronavirus genome here.