Differences Between SARS and COVID-19 Bindings to Human Receptors at Different Temperatures

A research team from Tianjin University led by Professor Gao Feng, Director of the University’s BioInformatics Center successfully revealed the differences in the binding characteristics of SARS coronavirus and COVID-19 to human receptors at different temperatures. The research result, which was obtained by molecular dynamics simulations, provides useful guidance and reference for drug design. The study was published online inBriefings in Bioinformaticson February 22.

The successful cell invasion either by SARS viruses or by COVID-19 depends primarily on protein-protein interactions between the binding domain (RBD) of the hedgehog protein (S protein) and the human ligand angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) (the associated structure is shown on the left of the figure below).

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a great deal of researches have been done on the interaction between RBD and ACE2, but most of them only proceeded at room temperature of 300 K (about 27 degrees Celsius). Since temperature is an important factor affecting viral infection, Prof. Gao’s team explored the differences in the binding characteristics of the two viruses at different temperatures (200K, 250K, 273K, 300K, 350K).

"This study helps to understand how SARS and COVID-19 differ from each other in infectivity, " says Prof. Gao.

By the School of Science

Editor: Eva Yin