Keele Computing expert’s sequence analysis report could inform coronavirus-related research

A new publication by a Keele University computing expert could help scientists working to fight the coronavirus pandemic by helping to inform their research.

The report by Dr Goksel Misirli provides insights into how mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences may have led to the current Covid-19 pandemic, using a comparative analysis to highlight the structural changes in one of the key proteins that increases the binding of the virus to human receptors.

The aim of the report is to serve as a “tutorial” for biologists and other scientists investigating the virus, in order to streamline their research by enabling them to link data from existing efforts to DNA sequence information in a systematic manner.

Integrative approaches like this can play a key role in understanding the effect of mutations in the virus’ ability to cause infection.

Dr Misirli, from the School of Computing and Mathematics said: “Computational analyses have much to offer in the fight against Covid-19. As the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates and continues to affect the world, it may be important to link existing information related to Covid-19 and other coronaviruses that caused pandemics in previous years.

“This report has been designed as a tutorial to show how DNA sequence level analysis can be extended to understand the virus phenotype that is caused by mutations. Fully automated computational workflows can be integrated with such comparative analyses in the future to predict key information in a time- and cost-effective manner.”

The report is publicly available online.