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Sturdier Spike Protein Explains Faster Spread of COVID-19 Variants

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Photo: Bing Chen, Ph.D., Boston Children's Hospital

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The fast-spreading UK, South Africa, and Brazil coronavirus variants are raising both concerns and questions about whether COVID-19 vaccines will protect against them. New work led by Bing Chen, Ph.D., at Boston Children's Hospital analyzed how the structure of the coronavirus spike proteins changes with the D614G mutation -- carried by all three variants -- and showed why these variants are able to spread more quickly. The team reports its findings in Science (March 16, 2020).

Chen's team imaged the spikes with cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), which has resolution ...