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The ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) resulted from the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in December 2019. Currently, multiple efforts are being made to rapidly develop vaccines and treatments to fight COVID-19. Current vaccine candidates use inactivated SARS-CoV-2 viruses; therefore, it is important to understand the architecture of inactivated SARS-CoV-2. We have genetically and structurally characterized β-propiolactone-inactivated viruses from a propagated and purified clinical strain of SARS-CoV-2. We observed that the virus particles are roughly spherical or moderately pleiomorphic. Although a small fraction of prefusion spikes are found, most spikes appear nail shaped, thus resembling a postfusion state, where the S1 protein of the spike has disassociated from S2. Cryoelectron tomography and subtomogram averaging of these spikes yielded a density map that closely matches the overall structure of the SARS-CoV postfusion spike and its corresponding glycosylation site. Our findings have major implications for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine design, especially those using inactivated viruses.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.str.2020.10.001

Type

Journal article

Journal

Structure (London, England : 1993)

Publication Date

14/10/2020

Addresses

Department of Biology, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, Guangdong Province, China; Cryo-EM Center, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, Guangdong Province, China.