2019 - A Fusion Peptide in the Spike Protein of MERS Coronavirus
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Viruses (2019)
Alsaadi E.A.J., Neuman B.W., and Jones I.M.
Viruses (2019) 11(9), 825 doi: 10.3390/v11090825
Coronaviruses represent current and emerging threats for many species, including humans. Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is responsible for sporadic infections in mostly Middle Eastern countries, with occasional transfer elsewhere. A key step in the MERS-CoV replication cycle is the fusion of the virus and host cell membranes mediated by the virus spike protein, S. The location of the fusion peptide within the MERS S protein has not been precisely mapped. We used isolated peptides and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUV) to demonstrate membrane binding for a peptide located near the N-terminus of the S2 domain. Key residues required for activity were mapped by amino acid replacement and their relevance in vitro tested by their introduction into recombinant MERS S protein expressed in mammalian cells. Mutations preventing membrane binding in vitro also abolished S-mediated syncytium formation consistent with the identified peptide acting as the fusion peptide for the S protein of MERS-CoV.