Errant epitopes from arginine methylated SARS-CoV-2 proteins predisposing to autoimmune diseases.
Drugs that can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication are urgently needed besides vaccines. The drugs can target the variants while vaccines provide limited immunity against only 1 protein, namely Spike. Our data show that viral proteins are modified post-translationally on arginine (methyl arginines) by protein arginine methyltransferases. This modification is necessary for the virus to suppress the anti-viral response and allow viral replication. We have shown that the N protein is arginine methylated and this is necessary for its function. Actually it is known that we develop antibodies against N protein, as it is very immunogenic. In addition, there are mutations in a key arginine residue in B.1.17 variant. In this proposal, we aim to understand how the methylated viral proteins are recognized by the immune system and if we will develop in the future autoimmune diseases because of this.