Review Article

Structural and functional properties of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein: potential antivirus drug development for COVID-19

Yuan Huang1, Chan Yang1, Xin-feng Xu1, Wei Xu1, Shu-wen Liu1,2
1 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of New Drug Screening, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Organ Failure Research, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China
Correspondence to: Wei Xu:, Shu-wen Liu:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-020-0485-4
Received: 15 May 2020
Accepted: 15 July 2020
Advance online: 3 August 2020


Coronavirus disease 2019 is a newly emerging infectious disease currently spreading across the world. It is caused by a novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2, which plays a key role in the receptor recognition and cell membrane fusion process, is composed of two subunits, S1 and S2. The S1 subunit contains a receptor-binding domain that recognizes and binds to the host receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, while the S2 subunit mediates viral cell membrane fusion by forming a six-helical bundle via the two-heptad repeat domain. In this review, we highlight recent research advance in the structure, function and development of antivirus drugs targeting the S protein.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 virus; spike protein; antivirus drugs; antibodies; fusion inhibitors; host proteases inhibitors

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