This article was originally published here
J Appl Genet. 2021 Oct 16. doi: 10.1007/s13353-021-00665-w. Online ahead of print.
During SARS-CoV-2 proliferation, the translation of viral RNAs is usually the rate-limiting step. Understanding the molecular details of this step is beneficial for uncovering the origin and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and even for controlling the pandemic. To date, it is unclear how SARS-CoV-2 competes with host mRNAs for ribosome binding and efficient translation. We retrieved the coding sequences of all human genes and SARS-CoV-2 genes. We systematically profiled the GC content and folding energy of each CDS. Considering that some fixed or polymorphic mutations exist in SARS-CoV-2 and human genomes, all algorithms and analyses were applied to both pre-mutate and post-mutate versions. In SARS-CoV-2 but not human, the 5-prime end of CDS had lower GC content and less RNA structure than the 3-prime part, which was favorable for ribosome binding and efficient translation initiation. Globally, the fixed and polymorphic mutations in SARS-CoV-2 had created an even lower GC content at the 5-prime end of CDS. In contrast, no similar patterns were observed for the fixed and polymorphic mutations in human genome. Compared with human RNAs, the SARS-CoV-2 RNAs have less RNA structure in the 5-prime end and thus are more favorable of fast translation initiation. The fixed and polymorphic mutations in SARS-CoV-2 are further amplifying this advantage. This might serve as a strategy for SARS-CoV-2 to adapt to the human host.