A molecular pore spans the double membrane of the coronavirus replication organelle

Science. 2020 Sep 11;369(6509):1395-1398. doi: 10.1126/science.abd3629. Epub 2020 Aug 6.


Coronavirus genome replication is associated with virus-induced cytosolic double-membrane vesicles, which may provide a tailored microenvironment for viral RNA synthesis in the infected cell. However, it is unclear how newly synthesized genomes and messenger RNAs can travel from these sealed replication compartments to the cytosol to ensure their translation and the assembly of progeny virions. In this study, we used cellular cryo-electron microscopy to visualize a molecular pore complex that spans both membranes of the double-membrane vesicle and would allow export of RNA to the cytosol. A hexameric assembly of a large viral transmembrane protein was found to form the core of the crown-shaped complex. This coronavirus-specific structure likely plays a key role in coronavirus replication and thus constitutes a potential drug target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / chemistry*
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / virology
  • Electron Microscope Tomography
  • Intracellular Membranes / chemistry*
  • Intracellular Membranes / ultrastructure
  • Intracellular Membranes / virology
  • Mice
  • Murine hepatitis virus / physiology*
  • RNA, Viral / biosynthesis*
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / chemistry
  • Virus Replication*


  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins