Interaction of the spike protein RBD from SARS-CoV-2 with ACE2: Similarity with SARS-CoV, hot-spot analysis and effect of the receptor polymorphism

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Houcemeddine OthmanScott Hazelhurst


The spread of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has been growing since its first identification in December 2019. The publishing of the first SARS-CoV-2 genome made a valuable source of data to study the details about its phylogeny, evolution, and interaction with the host. Protein-protein binding assays have confirmed that Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is more likely to be the cell receptor through which the virus invades the host cell. In the present work, we provide an insight into the interaction of the viral spike Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) from different coronavirus isolates with host ACE2 protein. By calculating the binding energy score between RBD and ACE2, we highlighted the putative jump in the affinity from a progenitor form of SARS-CoV-2 to the current virus responsible for COVID-19 outbreak. Our result was consistent with previously reported phylogenetic analysis and corroborates the opinion that the interface segment of the spike protein RBD might be acquired by SARS-CoV-2 via a complex evolutionary process rather than a progressive accumulation of mutations. We also highlighted the relevance of Q493 and P499 amino acid residues of SARS-CoV-2 RBD for binding to human ACE2 and maintaining the s...Continue Reading


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