Interviewer: Dr. Toby Gibson, thank you very much for connecting with us
today to discuss mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 entry
into human cells and specifically those relating to molecular events with
an ACE2 receptors and integrin proteins in the process of viral endocytosis.
First of all, could you provide us with
some background to the recently published research in the journal,
Science Signaling, where your team examined
the amino acid sequence of integrins and ACE2 receptors.
What was your initial investigative approach?
Dr. Gibson: Thanks for inviting me to speak, Scott.
Our team do what is known as bioinformatics.
We don't do experiments as such.
It helps to understand that biology is an information science.
Therefore, there is a role for researchers to
examine biological data in search of new insights.
Generally speaking, we are interested in
the interrelationships of sequence structure and function of proteins.
Protein molecules perform most of the operations needed for cells to live and thrive.
Many of these proteins have modular structures,
greatly complicating our understanding of their functions.
Like many other virologists,
at the beginning of the pandemic,
we wanted to contribute to SARS-CoV-2 research.
As soon as viral genomes were sequenced,
we had access to the protein sequences and started to examine them.
We also looked at the viral receptor, ACE2,
and shortly thereafter, cellular integrin
proteins once they had been suggested to be alternative receptors.
We quickly saw the potential of trafficking signals in the ACE2 receptor sequence.
Subsequently, our work went more into the direction of