NMR characterization and ligand binding site of the stem loop 2 motif (s2m) from the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Publication date: Apr 02, 2024

The stem loop 2 motif (s2m) in SARS-CoV-2 (SCoV-2) is located in the 3′-UTR. Although s2m has been reported to display characteristics of a mobile genomic element that might lead to an evolutionary advantage, its function has remained unknown. The secondary structure of the original SCoV-2 RNA sequence (Wuhan-Hu-1) was determined by NMR in late 2020, delineating the base pairing pattern and revealing substantial differences in secondary structure compared to SARS-CoV-1 (SCoV-1). The existence of a single G29742-A29756 mismatch in the upper stem of s2m leads to its destabilization and impedes a complete NMR analysis. With Delta, a variant of concern has evolved with one mutation compared to the original sequence that replaces G29742 by U29742. We show here that this mutation results in a more defined structure at ambient temperature accompanied by a rise in melting temperature. Consequently, we were able to identify over 90 % of the relevant NMR resonances using a combination of selective RNA labeling and filtered 2D NOESY as well as 4D NMR experiments. We present a comprehensive NMR analysis of the secondary structure, (sub-) nanosecond dynamics and ribose conformation of s2m Delta based on heteronuclear 13C NOE and T1 measurements and ribose carbon chemical shift-derived canonical coordinates. We further show that the G29742U mutation in Delta has no influence on the druggability of s2m compared to the Wuhan-Hu-1 sequence. With the assignment at hand, we identify the flexible regions of s2m as primary site for small molecule binding.

Concepts Keywords
Destabilization NMR spectroscopy
Druggability SARS-CoV-2
G29742u structural biology


Type Source Name
disease IDO site
drug DRUGBANK Activated charcoal

Original Article

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