- Within the last 2 decades, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses 1 and 2 (SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2) have caused two major outbreaks; yet, for reasons not fully understood, the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has been significantly more widespread than the 2003 SARS epidemic caused by SARS-CoV-1, despite striking similarities between these two viruses. The SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, both of which bind to host cell angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, have been implied to be a potential source of their differential transmissibility.
- The D614G mutation in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 alters the fitness of the virus, leading to the dominant form observed in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the molecular basis of the mechanism by which this mutation enhances fitness is not clear. Here we demonstrated by cryo-electron microscopy that the D614G mutation resulted in increased propensity of multiple receptor-binding domains (RBDs) in an upward conformation poised for host receptor binding. Multiple substates within the one RBD-up or two RBD-up conformational space were determined.
- The seasonal nature of outbreaks of respiratory viral infections with increased transmission during low temperatures has been well established. Accordingly, temperature has been suggested to play a role on the viability and transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the Spike glycoprotein is known to bind to its host receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to initiate viral fusion. Using biochemical, biophysical, and functional assays to dissect the effect of temperature on the receptor–Spike interaction, we observed a significant and stepwise increase in RBD-ACE2 affinity at low temperatures, resulting in slower dissociation kinetics.
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has developed into a global pandemic since its first outbreak in the winter of 2019. An extensive investigation of SARS-CoV-2 is critical for disease control. Various recombinant monoclonal antibodies of human origin that neutralize SARS-CoV-2 infection have been isolated from convalescent patients and will be applied as therapies and prophylaxis. However, the need for dedicated monoclonal antibodies suitable for molecular pathology research is not fully addressed.
- Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 from humans to animals has been reported for many domesticated species, including farmed minks. The identification of novel spike gene mutations appearing in minks has raised major concerns about potential immune evasion and challenges for the global vaccine strategy. One genetic variant, known as “cluster five,” arose among farmed minks in Denmark and resulted in a complete shutdown of the world’s largest mink production. However, the functional properties of this new variant are not established.
- The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the COVID-19 global pandemic, utilizes the host receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) for viral entry. However, other host factors might also play important roles in SARS-CoV-2 infection, providing new directions for antiviral treatments. GRP78 is a stress-inducible chaperone important for entry and infectivity for many viruses. Recent molecular docking analyses revealed putative interaction between GRP78 and the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein (SARS-2-S).