RNA & Nucleocapsid

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The genome of the SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) is single-stranded RNA (not like DNA in human cells). This means it can be immediately translated into viral proteins once inside the host cell.

As it is single stranded, any damage to the RNA cannot be recovered, as only one copy exists. In addition to this, the genome is one of the largest RNA genomes in the viral world, a fact which is reflected in the size of the virus itself.

Because the RNA is so precious to the virus, and its hull is so fragile, The RNA has an extra layer of protection in the form of the nucleocapsid proteins (grey) when it is packed inside the viral particle.

It is very likely wound in a double helical shape around the two helical grooves formed by the nucleocapsid complex. However, the nucleobases (orange and yellow) are too far from each other to form a typical RNA double helix with a ladder-like shape, and the bases may not point towards each other.