The Biology of Coronavirus- Simplified!!!

Hello Everyone 

Hope you and your loved ones are at home and safe in such times of crisis. After seeing a lot of misinformation due to the coronavirus my blog would try to spread facts about the biology of the virus to the people with a non-biology background on how the virus infects you and spreads in your body.

So what is a virus?

Viruses are organisms that are classified as non-living organisms when they are outside the cell. Viruses can be compared to parasites as they derive nutrition and energy from the host cell. Most importantly, viruses can only multiply when they are in the living host cell. 

Viruses are of two types 

DNA based viruses:

  • All of your relatives must have said sometime that your eyes are like your mom and your nose like your dad. Thanks to the DNA. DNA is a unit of heredity and plays many crucial roles and acts as your body blueprint. 
  • DNA is a molecule having two strands running parallelly that carries our genetic information and passes it to the next generation. For example The colour of our eye, or structure and function of all the cells present. 
  • The mutation in the DNA alters the structure and functionality of cells that cause genetic diseases, such as Down’s syndrome.  
  • DNA based viruses are the ones that have DNA as their hereditary material. Example- Hepatitis B  
Hepatitis B Virus
DNA Structure

RNA viruses

  1. RNA is a molecule similar to DNA essential in the formation of proteins which are used for many integral reactions in every cell
  2. RNA viruses are found in two types: single-stranded RNA and double-stranded RNA.
  3. SARS COV-2 is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes the disease Covid-19
Comparison between RNA and DNA
The Novel Coronavirus-SARS-CoV-2

Core Principles of Molecular Biology

To understand SARS-CoV-2 in detail, we would have to know about the Central Dogma Of Molecular biology. It is a two-step process of how your genetic information encoded in the DNA/RNA (in humans its DNA) is encoded in the form of proteins.

The two steps are called transcription and translation.

Transcription: 

  • In this process, the message encoded in the DNA is copied on another single-strand RNA called the messenger RNA or mRNA
  • The building blocks of this mRNA are small fragments floating around the DNA. Specialized enzymes take in those small blocks to build a chain called mRNA.
  • This takes place in the nucleus of the cell

Translation: 

  • Small organelles (organs of the cell) called ribosomes are present that assemble and join the small protein blocks called amino acids.
  • mRNA travels out of the nucleus to the ribosome for this process.
  • These amino acids are found in the free-floating cell space and brought together by another type of RNA called the tRNA.
  • The tRNAs bring the specific amino acid which is linked together by the ribosome to form a polypeptide chain

The chain then is folded in different ways as per the requirement of the cell for its reactions.

A GIF representing the process of Transcription and translation

Structure of the SARS-COV-2

Size- 50-200 nanometers (1 nanometer= 1×10-9 meters) 

SARS-COV-2 is a spherical-shaped virus. The virus has 4 structural proteins that form its viral protein coat. 

The 4 proteins are:

  1. S (structural) 

2. E (envelope), 

3. M (Membrane) 

4. The nucleocapsid (a protein that is connected to the RNA)

Illustrated diagram of Protein structure of SARS-CoV-2

What are the receptors?

Receptors are sense organs for the cell. They are present on the external layer/ cell membrane of the cell. These are responsible for sending signals to the cell and allow entry of various substances such as glucose, sodium, potassium etc. in the cell. Receptors act as communication channels between the cell and the outer world

ACE-2 is the receptor which is present on the linings of respiratory tract is responsible for SARS-CoV-2 

How does This virus replicate?

Viral replication is only possible when it takes place inside the host cell. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, it affects cells that form the outer lining of our respiratory tract. 

It binds to the ACE 2 receptor on the cell membrane and facilities its entry in the cell.

SARS-CoV-2 binding to ACE-2 receptor

The process is explained in the form of a flow chart

Replication cycle of SARS-CoV-2

 The new generation infects other cells in its vicinity in the same way and the process continues. RNA viruses have high rates of mutation and hence the vaccine produced would be for the current strain. Oxford University shows promising results of its vaccine of SARS-CoV-2 on monkeys.

Let us hope that the vaccine is released soon and the spread of this pandemic slows down and eventually stops.

Till then Stay Home, Stay Safe and maintain social distancing.  Happy to answer your questions on the mechanism of the the virus on the human body.

Cheers and Best wishes

Nidhip Joshi

Glossary

1. Mutation- change in the genetic structure either the DNA or RNA

2. Host- The animal or plant cell the virus invades

3. Replicate- To make exact copy of the genetic material

Published by nidhipjoshi

Hello Friends I am Nidhip Joshi, an environment lover, a passionate wildlifer and photographer. This portal is to share my thoughts, opinions and journey to the world. Pls pen down your thoughts opinion, suggestions and feedback and please do subscribe to my blog. Best Wishes to everyone Nidhip Joshi

28 thoughts on “The Biology of Coronavirus- Simplified!!!

  1. It’s really really good explaination and information. if People do not have any biological background still they can easily understand. Amazingly done✌️keep writing waiting for next blog.lots of love ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey… It’s a very good initiative… I want to add some points in it… There are so many misunderstandings in society about COVID-19…related to non vegetarian food, use of aayurveda and various kitchen ingredients, etc…if you can speak on these issues it will add a cherry on your cake … Because even though people who are literate in educational manner, they also doing this stuff….and another point is if you can make a graphical video in regional language with static part then it will help the rural and illiterate people to understand the whole thing… Keep it up… 💯

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Nidhip!!
    You have really written a very informative blog… The contents of this are incredible..
    Truly a pleasure to read this blog.. keep it up man!!! 👌👌👌👏👏👌👌

    Like

  4. All the information given here is extremely helpful and written in an easy way so that even common people can understand it easily. The information is handy, to the point and precise with good appropriate imagery and graphic elements. Very good. Best Wishes from Me Nidhip!! Cheers!❤

    Like

    1. Wow! This is a well researched lucid resource which should help everyone irrespective of their Biology/Virology interest or knowledge 💯💯
      Also the graphics and their arrangement is clean and professional. Cheers and Best Luck for your Blog and the Website Nidhip!❤️

      Like

  5. Dear Nidhip,
    Such a great initiative!! Not being from a biology background, I always thought of it as a very difficult subject to understand. Reading this, I felt at ease as I understood it pretty well.
    Keep it up!

    Like

  6. That’s really very informative and has been explained in simple manner… Liked it alot.. there are many cases were people get wrong information but this would definitely help out to understand easily about this virus… Really awesome work Nidhip… Loved it ❤️💯

    Like

  7. That’s really very informative and has been explained in simple manner… Liked it alot.. there are many cases were people get wrong information but this would definitely help out to understand easily about this virus… Really awesome work Nidhip… Loved it 💯💯

    Like

  8. You made it simple. I have read much about Corona, watched documentaries on it all went over. What you have written focuses on simplest of simple things and also I think that your perspective might be to think of the last man on the ladder. Your greatest achievement is that you made me biology understandable in this issue.
    I was eagerly waiting for this. Thank you so mich Nidhip. Great work💯 You write good. Looking forward for more such amazing blogs! All the best 🙌🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellently explained about all detail of corona virus and it’s molecular biology… keep it up Nidhip …

    Like

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