Cryo-electron Microscopy and Exploratory Antisense Targeting of the 28-kDa Frameshift Stimulation Element from the SARS-CoV-2 RNA Genome

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
K. ZhangRhiju Das


Drug discovery campaigns against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are beginning to target the viral RNA genome 1, 2 . The frameshift stimulation element (FSE) of the SARS-CoV-2 genome is required for balanced expression of essential viral proteins and is highly conserved, making it a potential candidate for antiviral targeting by small molecules and oligonucleotides 3-6 . To aid global efforts focusing on SARS-CoV-2 frameshifting, we report exploratory results from frameshifting and cellular replication experiments with locked nucleic acid (LNA) antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), which support the FSE as a therapeutic target but highlight difficulties in achieving strong inactivation. To understand current limitations, we applied cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and the Ribosolve 7 pipeline to determine a three-dimensional structure of the SARS-CoV-2 FSE, validated through an RNA nanostructure tagging method. This is the smallest macromolecule (88 nt; 28 kDa) resolved by single-particle cryo-EM at subnanometer resolution to date. The tertiary structure model, defined to an estimated accuracy of 5.9 Å, presents a topologically complex fold in which the 5' end threads through a ring formed insid...Continue Reading


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Methods Mentioned

x-ray scattering
Antisense oligonucleotides
electron microscopy
in vitro transcription

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