This gene would naturally make resistant to Covid-19

About the genes that protect against severe forms of the disease, what does the oldest person to have survived Covid-19 in Brazil tell us? Brazilian scientists have identified a gene whose variant would make people who carry it resistant to the dangers of Covid-19.

Some people have still not been infected with Covid-19. Luck, drastic respect for barrier gestures or super power? Their case has long interested scientists, who in 2021 even launched an appeal for people resistant to Covid-19 to be able to study them. What if this super power came from a gene?

Today, a Brazilian team has identified a genetic variant that could be involved in resistance to the most severe forms of Covid-19. Indeed, “super seniors”, carriers of the latter, have survived the coronavirus despite the presence of significant comorbidities. But what is this protective gene and how does it work?

Covid-19: why are the elderly more at risk?

The gene that makes you resistant to Covid-19

The research focused on a specific region of chromosome 6, a very changeable region that carries around a hundred genes involved in immunity. The genetic profile of super seniors who suffered almost no Covid-19 was compared with that of younger subjects who developed a severe form of the disease.

One gene in particular seems to be involved in resistance to severe forms of the disease: muc22. This gene is involved in the production of mucus, a thick substance that lines the airways and protects them from pathogenic microorganisms. It is a crucial component of non-specific immunity. In people who have only developed mild forms of Covid-19, this gene has several missense mutations, that is to say which changes the amino acid coded. These genetic variations are even more frequent in super seniors resistant to severe forms of the infection.

It may be that these missense variants interfere not only with the production of mucus, but also with its composition since the amino acids are changed. We need to do more studies to understand how they work during infections and in healthy people “, precise Erick Castelli, a researcher at the Medical University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Muc22 variants are also associated with the production of a microRNA that could interfere with coronavirus RNA and alter its replication. This ability, still to be explored, could reinforce the protective effect of muc22.

It remains to conduct functional studies to assess the real impact of variations in the muc22 gene on its biology and to discover the mechanisms behind this genetic super power.

Leave a Comment