spike protein

noun

variants or less commonly spike glycoprotein
plural spike proteins also spike glycoproteins
: a glycoprotein that protrudes from the envelope of some viruses (such as a coronavirus) and facilitates entry of the virion into a host cell by binding to a receptor on the surface of a host cell followed by fusion of the viral and host cell membranes
Like a key in a lock, these spike proteins fuse to receptors on the surface of cells, allowing the virus's genetic code to invade the host cell, take over its machinery and replicate.Bruce Lieberman
Their results, published in Science, confirm that the spike protein on the virus that causes COVID-19 is quite similar to that of its close relative, the SARS virus.Francis Collins
Using a powerful imaging technique … , researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Weill Cornell Medical College and Yale University School of Medicine observed the motions of key proteins on the surface of HIV called spike proteins.Emily Mullin

called also S protein

Examples of spike protein in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That's compared to the tens of thousands of research articles she's pulled up on the coronavirus spike protein, which has been the focus of vaccines and efforts to understand how the virus enters and infects our cells. Ari Daniel, NPR, 26 Mar. 2024 Its most notable new mutation changes the spike protein that latches onto cells, enhancing its ability to evade our immunity. Lisa M. Krieger, The Mercury News, 8 Jan. 2024 Scientists working with Moderna at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) used that sequence to find the gene for the virus's spike protein. Ayana Byrd, Health, 7 Jan. 2024 The spike protein is a key outer protein the virus uses to enter human cells. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 4 Oct. 2023 Immune cells in the arm muscle recognize the spike protein as foreign and sound the alarm. Emily Mullin, WIRED, 22 Jan. 2024 For example, the mRNA in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines directs cells to produce a harmless version of the virus’ spike protein that trains the immune system to recognize and better prepare for potential infection. Discover Magazine, 8 Jan. 2024 Enzymes are used to cut the plasmids into linear pieces of DNA that encode the spike protein, and a different enzyme converts that DNA into mRNA. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, 4 Jan. 2024 The changes that lead to new variants tend to occur in the spike protein. Theresa Tamkins, NBC News, 10 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spike protein.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1969, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spike protein was in 1969

Dictionary Entries Near spike protein

Cite this Entry

“Spike protein.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spike%20protein. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition

spike protein

noun
variants also spike glycoprotein
: a glycoprotein that protrudes from the envelope of some viruses (as a coronavirus) and facilitates entry of the virion into a host cell by binding to a receptor on the surface of a host cell followed by fusion of the viral and host cell membranes

called also S protein

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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