The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 infection has posed unprecedented threat to global public health. The virus-encoded non-structural protein 14 (nsp14) is a bi-functional enzyme consisting of an exoribonuclease (ExoN) domain and a methyltransferase (MTase) domain and plays a pivotal role in viral replication. Here, we report the structure of SARS-CoV-2 nsp14-ExoN domain bound to its co-factor nsp10 and show that, compared to the SARS-CoV nsp10/nsp14-full-length complex, SARS-CoV-2 nsp14-ExoN retains an integral exoribonuclease fold and preserves an active configuration in the catalytic center. Analysis of the nsp10/nsp14-ExoN interface reveals a footprint in nsp10 extensively overlapping with that observed in the nsp10/nsp16 structure. A marked difference in the co-factor when engaging nsp14 and nsp16 lies in helix-α1', which is further experimentally ascertained to be involved in nsp14-binding but not in nsp16-engagement. Finally, we also show that nsp10/nsp14-ExoN is enzymatically active despite the absence of nsp14-MTase domain. These data demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 nsp10/nsp14-ExoN functions as an exoribonuclease with both structural and functional integrity.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.