Biological, clinical and epidemiological features of COVID-19, SARS and MERS and AutoDock simulation of ACE2

Infect Dis Poverty. 2020 Jul 20;9(1):99. doi: 10.1186/s40249-020-00691-6.


Background: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused a public catastrophe and global concern. The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, myalgia, fatigue and lower respiratory tract infection signs. Almost all populations are susceptible to the virus, and the basic reproduction number (R0) is 2.8-3.9. The fight against COVID-19 should have two aspects: one is the treatment of infected patients, and the other is the mobilization of the society to avoid the spread of the virus. The treatment of patients includes supportive treatment, antiviral treatment, and oxygen therapy. For patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and circulatory support are recommended. Plasma therapy and traditional Chinese medicine have also achieved good outcomes. This review is intended to summarize the research on this new coronavirus, to analyze the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and previous outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and to provide guidance regarding new methods of prevention, diagnosis and clinical treatment based on autodock simulations.

Methods: This review compares the multifaceted characteristics of the three coronaviruses including COVID-19, SARS and MERS. Our researchers take the COVID-19, SARS, and MERS as key words and search literatures in the Pubmed database. We compare them horizontally and vertically which respectively means concluding the individual characteristics of each coronavirus and comparing the similarities and differences between the three coronaviruses.

Results: We searched for studies on each outbreak and their solutions and found that the main biological differences among SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV are in ORF1a and the sequence of gene spike coding protein-S. We also found that the types and severity of clinical symptoms vary, which means that the diagnosis and nursing measures also require differentiation. In addition to the common route of transmission including airborne transmission, these three viruses have their own unique routes of transmission such as fecal-oral route of transmission COVID-19.

Conclusions: In evolutionary history, these three coronaviruses have some similar biological features as well as some different mutational characteristics. Their receptors and routes of transmission are not all the same, which makes them different in clinical features and treatments. We discovered through the autodock simulations that Met124 plays a key role in the efficiency of drugs targeting ACE2, such as remdesivir, chloroquine, ciclesonide and niclosamide, and may be a potential target in COVID-19.

Keywords: Autodock; COVID-19; Coronavirus; MERS; SARS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry*
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • Betacoronavirus / genetics
  • Betacoronavirus / physiology
  • Betacoronavirus / ultrastructure
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Coronavirus Infections* / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections* / drug therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections* / transmission
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Humans
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / genetics
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / physiology
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / ultrastructure
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Pandemics*
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / chemistry*
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / metabolism
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / transmission
  • Receptors, Coronavirus
  • Receptors, Virus / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome* / transmission
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / genetics
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / physiology
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / ultrastructure


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Receptors, Coronavirus
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2