Light and corona: guided-wave readout for coronavirus spike protein-host-receptor binding

Opt Lett. 2020 Oct 1;45(19):5428-5431. doi: 10.1364/OL.402897.


We show that waveguide sensors can enable a quantitative characterization of coronavirus spike glycoprotein-host-receptor binding-the process whereby coronaviruses enter human cells, causing disease. We demonstrate that such sensors can help quantify and eventually understand kinetic and thermodynamic properties of viruses that control their affinity to targeted cells, which is known to significantly vary in the course of virus evolution, e.g., from SARS-CoV to SARS-CoV-2, making the development of virus-specific drugs and vaccine difficult. With the binding rate constants and thermodynamic parameters as suggested by the latest SARS-CoV-2 research, optical sensors of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein-receptor binding may be within sight.

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • Binding Sites
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Humans
  • Optics and Photonics / instrumentation*
  • Pandemics*
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / metabolism*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Virus
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2