The severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike (S) protein is the target of vaccine design efforts to end the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite a low mutation rate, isolates with the D614G substitution in the S protein appeared early during the pandemic and are now the dominant form worldwide. Here, we explore S conformational changes and the effects of the D614G mutation on a soluble S ectodomain construct. Cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures reveal altered receptor binding domain (RBD) disposition; antigenicity and proteolysis experiments reveal structural changes and enhanced furin cleavage efficiency of the G614 variant. Furthermore, furin cleavage alters the up/down ratio of the RBDs in the G614 S ectodomain, demonstrating an allosteric effect on RBD positioning triggered by changes in the SD2 region, which harbors residue 614 and the furin cleavage site. Our results elucidate SARS-CoV-2 S conformational landscape and allostery and have implications for vaccine design.
Keywords: 2P; COVID-19; D614G; SARS-CoV-2; allostery; cryo-EM; furin cleavage; spike.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.