Matchmaking between virus and host

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Science  28 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6447, pp. 1248-1249
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6447.1248-b

Coronaviruses not only include the deadly respiratory viruses, such as SARS and MERS, but also viruses that usually cause mild respiratory tract infections. However, mild coronavirus infections can cause severe complications in immunocompromised people. To infect cells, trimers of the coronaviruses' transmembrane spike glycoprotein bind to host receptors. Tortorici et al. determined the cryo–electron microscopy structures of the trimeric spike from human coronavirus HCoV-OC43 in isolation and in complex with a 9-O-acetylated sialic acid—a modification found on glycoproteins at the host cell surface. The ligand binds in a surface-exposed groove that is conserved in all coronaviruses.

Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 26, 481 (2019).

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