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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Structure of SARS-CoV-2 ORF8, a rapidly evolving coronavirus protein implicated in immune evasion.

  • Author(s): Flower, Thomas G
  • Buffalo, Cosmo Z
  • Hooy, Richard M
  • Allaire, Marc
  • Ren, Xuefeng
  • Hurley, James H
  • et al.

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The molecular basis for the severity and rapid spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is largely unknown. ORF8 is a rapidly evolving accessory protein that has been proposed to interfere with immune responses. The crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 ORF8 was determined at 2.04 Å resolution by x-ray crystallography. The structure reveals a ~60 residue core similar to SARS-CoV ORF7a with the addition of two dimerization interfaces unique to SARS-CoV-2 ORF8. A covalent disulfide-linked dimer is formed through an N-terminal sequence specific to SARS-CoV-2, while a separate non-covalent interface is formed by another SARS-CoV-2-specific sequence, 73 YIDI 76 . Together the presence of these interfaces shows how SARS-CoV-2 ORF8 can form unique large-scale assemblies not possible for SARS-CoV, potentially mediating unique immune suppression and evasion activities.

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