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J Biol Chem. 2006 Apr 28;281(17):11965-71. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Solution structure of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus heptad repeat 2 domain in the prefusion state.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA.


The envelope glycoprotein, termed the spike protein, of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is known to mediate viral entry. Similar to other class 1 viral fusion proteins, the heptad repeat regions of SARS-CoV spike are thought to undergo conformational changes from a prefusion form to a subsequent post-fusion form that enables fusion of the viral and host membranes. Recently, the structure of a post-fusion form of SARS-CoV spike, which consists of isolated domains of heptad repeats 1 and 2 (HR1 and HR2), has been determined by x-ray crystallography. To date there is no structural information for the prefusion conformations of SARS-CoV HR1 and HR2. In this work we present the NMR structure of the HR2 domain (residues 1141-1193) from SARS-CoV (termed S2-HR2) in the presence of the co-solvent trifluoroethanol. We find that in the absence of HR1, S2-HR2 forms a coiled coil symmetric trimer with a complex molecular mass of 18 kDa. The S2-HR2 structure, which is the first example of the prefusion form of coronavirus envelope, supports the current model of viral membrane fusion and gives insight into the design of structure-based antagonists of SARS.

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