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Nat Commun ; 11(1): 5885, 2020 11 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-933684


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the COVID19 pandemic, is a highly pathogenic ß-coronavirus. As other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is enveloped, replicates in the cytoplasm and assembles at intracellular membranes. Here, we structurally characterize the viral replication compartment and report critical insights into the budding mechanism of the virus, and the structure of extracellular virions close to their native state by in situ cryo-electron tomography and subtomogram averaging. We directly visualize RNA filaments inside the double membrane vesicles, compartments associated with viral replication. The RNA filaments show a diameter consistent with double-stranded RNA and frequent branching likely representing RNA secondary structures. We report that assembled S trimers in lumenal cisternae do not alone induce membrane bending but laterally reorganize on the envelope during virion assembly. The viral ribonucleoprotein complexes (vRNPs) are accumulated at the curved membrane characteristic for budding sites suggesting that vRNP recruitment is enhanced by membrane curvature. Subtomogram averaging shows that vRNPs are distinct cylindrical assemblies. We propose that the genome is packaged around multiple separate vRNP complexes, thereby allowing incorporation of the unusually large coronavirus genome into the virion while maintaining high steric flexibility between the vRNPs.

Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/physiology , Virus Replication , A549 Cells , Animals , COVID-19 , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Cytoplasmic Vesicles/virology , Electron Microscope Tomography , Endoplasmic Reticulum/virology , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , RNA, Viral/chemistry , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Vero Cells , Virion/chemistry , Virion/metabolism , Virus Assembly
Viruses ; 12(8)2020 08 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-713633


Rapid large-scale testing is essential for controlling the ongoing pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The standard diagnostic pipeline for testing SARS-CoV-2 presence in patients with an ongoing infection is predominantly based on pharyngeal swabs, from which the viral RNA is extracted using commercial kits, followed by reverse transcription and quantitative PCR detection. As a result of the large demand for testing, commercial RNA extraction kits may be limited and, alternatively, non-commercial protocols are needed. Here, we provide a magnetic bead RNA extraction protocol that is predominantly based on in-house made reagents and is performed in 96-well plates supporting large-scale testing. Magnetic bead RNA extraction was benchmarked against the commercial QIAcube extraction platform. Comparable viral RNA detection sensitivity and specificity were obtained by fluorescent and colorimetric reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) using a primer set targeting the N gene, as well as RT-qPCR using a primer set targeting the E gene, showing that the RNA extraction protocol presented here can be combined with a variety of detection methods at high throughput. Importantly, the presented diagnostic workflow can be quickly set up in a laboratory without access to an automated pipetting robot.

Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Humans , Magnetic Phenomena , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/genetics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Reverse Transcription , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity
Sci Transl Med ; 12(556)2020 08 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-688785


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) coronavirus is a major public health challenge. Rapid tests for detecting existing SARS-CoV-2 infections and assessing virus spread are critical. Approaches to detect viral RNA based on reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) have potential as simple, scalable, and broadly applicable testing methods. Compared to RT quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR)-based methods, RT-LAMP assays require incubation at a constant temperature, thus eliminating the need for sophisticated instrumentation. Here, we tested a two-color RT-LAMP assay protocol for detecting SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA using a primer set specific for the N gene. We tested our RT-LAMP assay on surplus RNA samples isolated from 768 pharyngeal swab specimens collected from individuals being tested for COVID-19. We determined the sensitivity and specificity of the RT-LAMP assay for detecting SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA. Compared to an RT-qPCR assay using a sensitive primer set, we found that the RT-LAMP assay reliably detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA with an RT-qPCR cycle threshold (CT) number of up to 30, with a sensitivity of 97.5% and a specificity of 99.7%. We also developed a swab-to-RT-LAMP assay that did not require a prior RNA isolation step, which retained excellent specificity (99.5%) but showed lower sensitivity (86% for CT < 30) than the RT-LAMP assay. In addition, we developed a multiplexed sequencing protocol (LAMP-sequencing) as a diagnostic validation procedure to detect and record the outcome of RT-LAMP reactions.

Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , COVID-19 , Colorimetry/methods , Colorimetry/statistics & numerical data , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/statistics & numerical data , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/statistics & numerical data , Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Pandemics , Phosphoproteins , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , RNA-Seq , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity