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EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335224


The Omicron subvariant BA.2 has become the dominant circulating strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in many countries. We have characterized structural, functional and antigenic properties of the full-length BA.2 spike (S) protein and compared replication of the authentic virus in cell culture and animal model with previously prevalent variants. BA.2 S can fuse membranes more efficiently than Omicron BA.1, mainly due to lack of a BA.1-specific mutation that may retard the receptor engagement, but still less efficiently than other variants. Both BA.1 and BA.2 viruses replicated substantially faster in animal lungs than the early G614 (B.1) strain in the absence of pre-existing immunity, possibly explaining the increased transmissibility despite their functionally compromised spikes. As in BA.1, mutations in the BA.2 S remodel its antigenic surfaces leading to strong resistance to neutralizing antibodies. These results suggest that both immune evasion and replicative advantage may contribute to the heightened transmissibility for the Omicron subvariants.

Cell ; 182(2): 417-428.e13, 2020 07 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-342735


Nucleotide analog inhibitors, including broad-spectrum remdesivir and favipiravir, have shown promise in in vitro assays and some clinical studies for COVID-19 treatment, this despite an incomplete mechanistic understanding of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase nsp12 drug interactions. Here, we examine the molecular basis of SARS-CoV-2 RNA replication by determining the cryo-EM structures of the stalled pre- and post- translocated polymerase complexes. Compared with the apo complex, the structures show notable structural rearrangements happening to nsp12 and its co-factors nsp7 and nsp8 to accommodate the nucleic acid, whereas there are highly conserved residues in nsp12, positioning the template and primer for an in-line attack on the incoming nucleotide. Furthermore, we investigate the inhibition mechanism of the triphosphate metabolite of remdesivir through structural and kinetic analyses. A transition model from the nsp7-nsp8 hexadecameric primase complex to the nsp12-nsp7-nsp8 polymerase complex is also proposed to provide clues for the understanding of the coronavirus transcription and replication machinery.

Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/enzymology , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/chemistry , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/chemistry , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/chemistry , Adenosine Monophosphate/metabolism , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/chemistry , Alanine/metabolism , Alanine/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Catalytic Domain , Coronavirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Models, Chemical , Models, Molecular , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Transcription, Genetic , Virus Replication