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Regional TMPRSS2 V197M Allele Frequencies Are Correlated with COVID-19 Case Fatality Rates

The public research team at the Genome Industrial Technology Center of Clinomics and Ulsan Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) revealed that there is a significant correlation between the COVID-19 fatality rate and the frequency of V197M mutations in TMPRS2 genes by country.

According to the study, the frequency of certain mutations in the coronavirus-related gene called TMPRSS2 and the fatality rate by country are correlated, and in particular, when the 197th valine (V) amino acid is changed to mechionine (M), it is known to be more resistant to COVID-19. It was revealed that Koreans may be more resistant to the coronavirus because there are more people with abnormal mutations than Europeans.

Coronavirus can penetrate the body only once it is cut off by an enzyme called TMPRSS2 in our body. It sticks better to the ACE2 protein, which contains the coronavirus, and makes it better to invade. The research team conducted a large bio big data analysis to determine whether special genetic mutations affect the risk of coronavirus using genome data from a total of 223,760 people around the world, including genome data from the Ulsan 10,000 Genome Project. The research team found a statistically correlated V197M mutation by comparing the frequency of genetic mutations by country and corona mortality by biologically erasing all gene mutations that change all amino acids inside the TMPRSS2 enzyme.

This V197M gene mutation is quite frequent in East Asian countries such as Korea and Japan, while it is less frequent in European countries such as France and Italy.

To further identify the biological implications of this gene mutation, the research team predicted that this V197M mutation could destabilize the TMPRSS2 enzyme through the prediction of the three-dimensional structure of the coronavirus protein and human protein. This means that it can make it more difficult for the coronavirus to invade the human body.

Analyzing genome data from more mild, severe, and death cases is expected to show how the frequency of genetic mutations by ethnicity affects the fatality of the novel coronavirus.

Reference: Jeon S, Blazyte A, Yoon C, Ryu H, Jeon Y, Bhak Y, Bolser D, Manica A, Shin E, Cho YS, Kim BC, Ryoo N, Choi H, Bhak J. Regional TMPRSS2 V197M Allele Frequencies Are Correlated with COVID-19 Case Fatality Rates. Mol. Cells 2021;44:680-687. https://doi.org/10.14348/molcells.2021.2249

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