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Electrostatic features for nucleocapsid proteins of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. (English) Zbl 1471.92125

Summary: COVID-19 is increasingly affecting human health and global economy. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is highly demanded to develop treatments for COVID-19. SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 share 92.06% identity in their N protein RBDs’ sequences, which results in very similar structures. However, the SARS-CoV-2 is more easily to spread. Utilizing multi-scale computational approaches, this work studied the fundamental mechanisms of the nucleocapsid (N) proteins of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, including their stabilities and binding strengths with RNAs at different pH values. Electrostatic potential on the surfaces of N proteins show that both the N proteins of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 have dominantly positive potential to attract RNAs. The binding forces between SARS-CoV N protein and RNAs at different distances are similar to that of SARS-CoV-2, both in directions and magnitudes. The electric filed lines between N proteins and RNAs are also similar for both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. The folding energy and binding energy dependence on pH revealed that the best environment for N proteins to perform their functions with RNAs is the weak acidic environment.

MSC:

92C40 Biochemistry, molecular biology
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