SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (S) binds to human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2), allowing virus to dock on cell membrane follow by viral entry. Here, we use high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) for real-time visualization of S, and its interaction with hACE2 and small extracellular vesicles (sEVs). Results show conformational heterogeneity of S, flexibility of S stalk and receptor-binding domain (RBD), and pH/temperature-induced conformational change of S. S in an S-ACE2 complex appears as an all-RBD up conformation. The complex acquires a distinct topology upon acidification. S and S2 subunit demonstrate different membrane docking mechanisms on sEVs. S-hACE2 interaction facilitates S to dock on sEVs, implying the feasibility of ACE2-expressing sEVs for viral neutralization. In contrary, S2 subunit docks on lipid layer and enters sEV using its fusion peptide, mimicking the viral entry scenario. Altogether, our study provides a platform that is suitable for real-time visualization of various entry inhibitors, neutralizing antibodies, and sEV-based decoy in blocking viral entry. Teaser: Comprehensive observation of SARS-CoV-2 spike and its interaction with receptor ACE2 and sEV-based decoy in real time using HS-AFM.
Keywords: ACE2; EV; High-speed AFM; SARS-CoV-2 spike; exosomes.
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Extracellular Vesicles published by Wiley Periodicals, LLC on behalf of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles.