The structural basis of accelerated host cell entry by SARS-CoV-2 dagger

Murat Seyran, Kazuo Takayama, Vladimir N. Uversky, Kenneth Lundstrom, Giorgio Palù, Samendra P. Sherchan, Diksha Attrish, Nima Rezaei, Alaa A.a. Aljabali, Shinjini Ghosh, Damiano Pizzol, Gaurav Chauhan, Parise Adadi, Tarek Mohamed Abd El‐aziz, Antonio G Soares, Ramesh Kandimalla, Murtaza Tambuwala, Sk. Sarif Hassan, Gajendra Kumar Azad, Pabitra Pal ChoudhuryWagner Baetas‐da‐cruz, Ángel Serrano‐aroca, Adam M. Brufsky, Bruce D. Uhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that exhibits an overwhelming contagious capacity over other Human Coronaviruses (HCoVs). This structural snapshot describes the structural bases underlying the pandemic capacity of SARS-CoV-2 and explains its fast motion over respiratory epithelia that allow its rapid cellular entry. Based on notable viral spike (S) protein features, we propose that the flat sialic acid-binding domain at the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the S1 subunit leads to more effective first contact and interaction with the sialic acid layer over the epithelium and this, in turn, allows faster viral "surfing" of the epithelium and receptor scanning by SARS-CoV-2. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) protein on the epithelial surface is the primary entry receptor for SARS-CoV-2, and protein-protein interaction assays demonstrate high-affinity binding of the S protein to ACE-2. To date, no high-frequency mutations were detected at the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the S1 subunit in the S protein, where the receptor-binding domain (RBD) is located. Tight binding to ACE-2 by a conserved viral RBD suggests the ACE2-RBD interaction is likely optimal. Moreover, the viral S subunit contains a cleavage site for furin and other proteases, which accelerates cell entry by SARS-CoV-2. The model proposed here describes a structural basis for the accelerated host cell entry by SARS-CoV-2 relative to other HCoVs, and also discusses emerging hypotheses that are likely to contribute to the development of antiviral strategies to combat the pandemic capacity of SARS-CoV-2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5010-5020
Number of pages11
JournalThe FEBS journal
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Dec 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'The structural basis of accelerated host cell entry by SARS-CoV-2 dagger'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this