Coronavirus genomes in India have 5.39 per cent mutation similarity with 72 nations, found a study by a group of researchers trying to identify the genetic variability and potential molecular targets in the virus and humans to find the best possible answer for combating COVID-19. Mutations in an organism's genetic material are natural 'errors' in the cell replication process that may give the virus new 'powers' of survival, infectivity, and virulence. It can affect the ability of vaccines and drugs to bind the virus, or to create a specific immune response against it.
The study also reveals that the US, the UK and India are the top three nations with a geometric mean of 3.27 per cent, 3.59 per cent, and 5.39 per cent, respectively, of mutation similarity score with other 72 countries. Indrajit Saha, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of National Institute of Technical Teachers' Training and Research, Kolkata, and his team have also developed a web-based COVID-Predictor to predict the sequence of viruses online on the basis of machine learning.
The scientists are on track to identify the number of virus strains using single nucleotide polymorphism, spot the potential target proteins of the virus and human host based on protein-protein interactions, recognise candidate of synthetic vaccines based on conserved genomic regions that are highly immunogenic and antigenic and detect the virus miRNAs that are also involved in regulating human mRNA. They analysed 566 Indian SARS-CoV-2 genomes separately to find the genetic variability in terms of point mutation and single nucleotide polymorphism.
The scientists have mainly found that 57 out of 64 SNPs are present in six coding regions of Indian SARS-CoV-2 genomes, and all are nonsynonymous in nature. This work has already been published in Infection, Genetics, and Evolution journal. They have extended this research for more than 10,000 sequences around the globe and found 20,260, 18,997, and 3514 unique mutation points globally, including India, excluding India and only for India, respectively with the similarity score as mentioned above.