2State Autonomous Public Health Institution “Republican Clinical Hospital”, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tatarstan, 420064 Kazan, Russia
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received July 13, 2022; Revised October 5, 2022; Accepted October 17, 2022
New coronavirus infection causing COVID-19, which was first reported in late 2019 in China, initiated severe social and economic crisis that affected the whole world. High frequency of the errors in replication of RNA viruses, zoonotic nature of transmission, and high transmissibility allowed betacoronaviruses to cause the third pandemic in the world since the beginning of 2003: SARS-CoV in 2003, MERS-CoV in 2012, and SARS-CoV-2 in 2019. The latest pandemic united scientific community and served as a powerful impetus in the study of biology of coronaviruses: new routes of virus penetration into the human cells were identified, features of the replication cycle were studied, and new functions of coronavirus proteins were elucidated. It should be recognized that the pandemic was accompanied by the need to obtain and publish results within a short time, which led to the emergence of an array of conflicting data and low reproducibility of research results. We systematized and analyzed scientific literature, filtered the results according to reliability of the methods of analysis used, and prepared a review describing molecular mechanisms of functioning of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This review considers organization of the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, mechanisms of its gene expression and entry of the virus into the cell, provides information on key mutations that characterize different variants of the virus, and their contribution to pathogenesis of the disease.
KEY WORDS: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, S protein, mutation, VOC