OK, so in response to Stewie’s concerns about the spike protein and my own, I did some reading. Here’s what I found.
First, the spike protein can do damage on its own.
- SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Induces Degradation of Junctional Proteins That Maintain Endothelial Barrier Integrity
- SARS-CoV-2 spike protein alone may cause lung damage
- Spike Proteins of SARS-CoV-2 Induce Pathological Changes in Molecular Delivery and Metabolic Function in the Brain Endothelial Cells
However, the covid vaccine spike protein is not quite the same as the one in the virus, and this means that it shouldn’t be able to do any damage on its own.
- “The spike proteins from the virus and the ones generated by the vaccines are “essentially the same,” McLellan, the spike protein researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, told us, noting that they have the same function, structure and way of processing.
But, he said, there is “one key difference,” in that the spikes encoded by the vaccines “contain 2 amino acid changes that help stabilize the spike in its initial conformation and help prevent the spike from undergoing a conformational change that is required to facilitate membrane fusion.”
That’s because the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is a shape-shifter. To fuse its viral membrane with the host cell membrane it substantially changes its shape from an unstable pre-fusion state to a stable post-fusion state. While previously working on a vaccine for MERS, a disease caused by another coronavirus, McLellan and others discovered that by adding two proline molecules to the spike protein, they could lock it into its pre-fusion state, triggering a more effective immune response and preventing cell entry. The same harmless mutation, called 2P, as in two proline molecules, is used in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.”
So what happens to the vaccine spike proteins?
- “The study found that the majority of the spike protein degrades within 24 hours, which provides more understanding about the process of infection and vaccination. Since mRNA vaccines work by giving instructions to our cells to make the spike protein, this finding gives insight into how long the newly made protein will be present.”
- “A key mechanistic point regarding the safety of the vaccines has been that the spike protein does not get to freely float around in the blood where it might be able to cause these deleterious effects we discussed earlier. We know that the spike protein does not get secreted because it lacks the signal sequence for that, and the protein as specified by the mRNA is membrane bound.”
This is a blog post, not journal, but reads well.
- “When the tissue cells and dendritic cells recognize the spike proteins as unwelcome visitors, the cells place sections of the spike proteins on their exterior for other cells to see. The dendritic cells also release “danger” signals at the same time to let other cells know that the spike protein presents a threat. The danger signals are like flashing neon yellow signs pointing to the displayed spike protein piece saying, “This does not belong!”