Department News

Jack Werren's approach predicts novel ‘protein partners’ that could contribute to COVID-19 symptoms

September 16, 2021

In a new paper published in the journal PeerJ, John (Jack) Werren, the Nathaniel and Helen Wisch Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester, and recent undergraduates Austin Varela ’20 and Sammy Cheng ’21 studied proteins that closely evolve with Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the receptor used by the SARS-CoV2 virus to enter human cells.

Using an evolutionary approach, the researchers detected proteins that “coevolve” with ACE2 in mammals as a way to identify networks of proteins that likely interact with ACE2 during its normal functions in the human body. Their rationale is that disruptions caused by COVID-19 in these normal functions of ACE2 could contribute to the unusual pathologies of the disease.