Structural analysis of full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein from an advanced vaccine candidate

Science. 2020 Nov 27;370(6520):1089-1094. doi: 10.1126/science.abe1502. Epub 2020 Oct 20.


Vaccine efforts to combat the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is responsible for the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, are focused on SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, the primary target for neutralizing antibodies. We performed cryo-election microscopy and site-specific glycan analysis of one of the leading subunit vaccine candidates from Novavax, which is based on a full-length spike protein formulated in polysorbate 80 detergent. Our studies reveal a stable prefusion conformation of the spike immunogen with slight differences in the S1 subunit compared with published spike ectodomain structures. We also observed interactions between the spike trimers, allowing formation of higher-order spike complexes. This study confirms the structural integrity of the full-length spike protein immunogen and provides a basis for interpreting immune responses to this multivalent nanoparticle immunogen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines / chemistry*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Humans
  • Protein Domains
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / chemistry*


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2