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SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein: Importance in viral infection

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https://doi.org/10.52396/JUSTC-2022-0020
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  • Author Bio:

    H. M. Shifa ul Haq is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Science and Technology of China. His research focuses on molecular mechanism of host-microbe interactions

    Hongliang He received his Ph.D. degree in Infectious Diseases from Sun Yat-sen University. He is a physician in Department of Infectious Diseases at the First Affiliated Hospital of USTC. His research interests include diagnosis, mechanism and treatment of infectious diseases

    Tengchuan Jin received his Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics from Illinois Institute of Technology. He is a professor at the Division of Life Sciences and Medicine, University of Science and Technology of China. His research interests include molecular mechanism of host-microbe interaction, therapeutic antibody development

  • Corresponding author: E-mail: hhl725@ustc.edu.cn; E-mail: jint@ustc.edu.cn
  • Received Date: 22 January 2022
  • Accepted Date: 02 April 2022
  • The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused millions of deaths worldwide. Therefore, it is critical to understand the biological basis of SARS-CoV-2 to develop novel approaches to control its spread. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein is an important diagnostic and potent therapeutic target of the disease, as it is involved in numerous important functions in the viral life cycle. Several studies have explained the structural and functional aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 N protein. This review summarizes the currently available data on the evolutionarily conserved N protein of SARS-CoV-2 by providing detailed information on the structural and multifunctional characteristics of the N protein.
    Structure and functions of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein.
    The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused millions of deaths worldwide. Therefore, it is critical to understand the biological basis of SARS-CoV-2 to develop novel approaches to control its spread. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein is an important diagnostic and potent therapeutic target of the disease, as it is involved in numerous important functions in the viral life cycle. Several studies have explained the structural and functional aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 N protein. This review summarizes the currently available data on the evolutionarily conserved N protein of SARS-CoV-2 by providing detailed information on the structural and multifunctional characteristics of the N protein.
    • SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein is an important structural and multifunctional protein.
    • N protein of SARS-CoV-2 consists of five major domains including N terminal tail, N-NTD, LKR, N-CTD, and IDR.
    • N protein acts as a multifunctional protein by playing roles in genome packaging, RNA chaperoning, protein transport, DNA degradation, interfering with host translation, and limiting host immune responses.
    • N protein is an important target for T-cell activation and vaccine design.

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    Figure  1.  Structural model of SARS-CoV-2 N protein. Major structural domains of N protein with their sequence of amino acids in protein chain have been represented by different colors in the figure. The N-NTD and N-CTD are represented in green and purple, respectively. While IDR, LKR, and C terminal IDR are represented in brown, black, and blue, respectively.

    Figure  2.  Structural features and representation of SARS-CoV-2 N protein. (a) Structure of SARS-CoV-2 N protein[42]. The N-NTD and N-CTD are represented in green and purple, respectively. The other structural domain, including N-tail, NTD-CTD linker, and C-tail, are presented by brown, black, and blue, respectively. (b) Schematic representation of N-NTD of SARS-CoV-2 based on the SARS-CoV-2 N protein structure presented in (a). (c) Schematic representation of N-CTD of SARS-CoV-2 based on the SARS-CoV-2 N protein structure presented in (a). (b) and (c) are colored as in (a).

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