Controlling the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein conformation.
The coronavirus (CoV) spike (S) protein, involved in viral-host cell fusion, is the primary immunogenic target for virus neutralization and the current focus of many vaccine design efforts. The highly flexible S-protein, with its mobile domains, presents a moving target to the immune system. Here, to better understand S-protein mobility, we implemented a structure-based vector analysis of available β-CoV S-protein structures. Despite an overall similarity in domain organization, we found that S-proteins from different β-CoVs display distinct configurations. Based on this analysis, we developed two soluble ectodomain constructs for the SARS-CoV-2 S-protein, in which the highly immunogenic and mobile receptor binding domain (RBD) is either locked in the all-RBDs 'down' position or adopts 'up' state conformations more readily than the wild-type S-protein. These results demonstrate that the conformation of the S-protein can be controlled via rational design and can provide a framework for the development of engineered CoV S-proteins for vaccine applications.
Henderson, R; Edwards, RJ; Mansouri, K; Janowska, K; Stalls, V; Gobeil, SMC; Kopp, M; Li, D; Parks, R; Hsu, AL; Borgnia, MJ; Haynes, BF; Acharya, P
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