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Dr. Joseph Baker studies the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein using TCNJ’s supercomputer

Dr. Joseph Baker, Associate Professor of Chemistry at TCNJ, is collaborating with an international team to study the spike protein from the novel coronavirus, SARS CoV-2.  In our first paper our team reports on the novel observation about the gain in nanomechanical stability of the SARS-CoV-2 (CoV2) spike (S) protein in comparison with SARS-CoV from 2002 (CoV1). Our findings have several biological implications in the subfamily of coronaviruses, as they suggest that the receptor binding domain (RBD) (∼200 amino acids) plays a fundamental role as a damping element of the massive viral particle’s motion prior to cell-recognition, while also facilitating viral attachment, fusion and entry. This work is helping us to better understand how the coronavirus infects hosts and maintains its mechanical stability under forces. Simulations for this work were carried out on the NSF-funded TCNJ supercomputer, the Electronic Laboratory for Science and Analysis (ELSA).