Structure and dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 proofreading exoribonuclease ExoN.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


bioRxiv (2021)


<p>High-fidelity replication of the large RNA genome of coronaviruses (CoVs) is mediated by a 3&#39;-to-5&#39; exoribonuclease (ExoN) in non-structural protein 14 (nsp14), which excises nucleotides including antiviral drugs mis-incorporated by the low-fidelity viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) and has also been implicated in viral RNA recombination and resistance to innate immunity. Here we determined a 1.6-Å resolution crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 ExoN in complex with its essential co-factor, nsp10. The structure shows a highly basic and concave surface flanking the active site, comprising several Lys residues of nsp14 and the N-terminal amino group of nsp10. Modeling suggests that this basic patch binds to the template strand of double-stranded RNA substrates to position the 3&#39; end of the nascent strand in the ExoN active site, which is corroborated by mutational and computational analyses. Molecular dynamics simulations further show remarkable flexibility of multi-domain nsp14 and suggest that nsp10 stabilizes ExoN for substrate RNA-binding to support its exoribonuclease activity. Our high-resolution structure of the SARS-CoV-2 ExoN-nsp10 complex serves as a platform for future development of anti-coronaviral drugs or strategies to attenuate the viral virulence.</p>

7MC5, 7MC6