CryoEM and AI reveal a structure of SARS-CoV-2 Nsp2, a multifunctional protein involved in key host processes

Res Sq. 2021 May 19;rs.3.rs-515215. doi: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-515215/v1. Preprint

Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 protein Nsp2 has been implicated in a wide range of viral processes, but its exact functions, and the structural basis of those functions, remain unknown. Here, we report an atomic model for full-length Nsp2 obtained by combining cryo-electron microscopy with deep learning-based structure prediction from AlphaFold2. The resulting structure reveals a highly-conserved zinc ion-binding site, suggesting a role for Nsp2 in RNA binding. Mapping emerging mutations from variants of SARS-CoV-2 on the resulting structure shows potential host-Nsp2 interaction regions. Using structural analysis together with affinity tagged purification mass spectrometry experiments, we identify Nsp2 mutants that are unable to interact with the actin-nucleation-promoting WASH protein complex or with GIGYF2, an inhibitor of translation initiation and modulator of ribosome-associated quality control. Our work suggests a potential role of Nsp2 in linking viral transcription within the viral replication-transcription complexes (RTC) to the translation initiation of the viral message. Collectively, the structure reported here, combined with mutant interaction mapping, provides a foundation for functional studies of this evolutionary conserved coronavirus protein and may assist future drug design.

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  • Preprint