The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike (S) mediates viral entry into cells and is critical for vaccine development against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Structural studies have revealed distinct conformations of S, but real-time information that connects these structures is lacking. Here we apply single-molecule fluorescence (Förster) resonance energy transfer (smFRET) imaging to observe conformational dynamics of S on virus particles. Virus-associated S dynamically samples at least four distinct conformational states. In response to human receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2), S opens sequentially into the hACE2-bound S conformation through at least one on-path intermediate. Conformational preferences observed upon exposure to convalescent plasma or antibodies suggest mechanisms of neutralization involving either competition with hACE2 for binding to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) or allosteric interference with conformational changes required for entry. Our findings inform on mechanisms of S recognition and conformations for immunogen design.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 spike protein; antibody neutralization; real-time conformational dynamics; receptor ACE2; single-molecule FRET.
Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.