The article titled “Structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain bound to the ACE2 receptor” published in the scientific journal Nature, details a study investigating the molecular interactions between the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the human ACE2 receptor. The researchers used cryo-electron microscopy to capture the atomic structure of the spike protein receptor-binding domain bound to the ACE2 receptor.
The study found that the spike protein has two distinct conformations, one that is open and available for binding and one that is closed and inaccessible. Additionally, the researchers discovered a hinge-like motion in the spike protein that allows it to switch between these two conformations.
The results also showed that the interaction between the spike protein and ACE2 receptor is highly specific and that certain mutations in the spike protein can reduce the binding affinity to the ACE2 receptor. These findings have implications for the development of therapies and vaccines for COVID-19 as they provide insight into how the virus interacts with human cells and how these interactions can be disrupted.
The study’s findings contribute to our understanding of the molecular basis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s infectivity and provide a starting point for the development of new therapies and vaccines. The research may also aid in the development of treatments for other coronaviruses that use the same ACE2 receptor to infect cells.