Tuesday, March 31, 2020

COVID-19: Structure of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)

Okay, let's start right away.

Molecular structure of SARS-CoV-2
1. The novel coronavirus 2019 (SARS-CoV-2) is an RNA virus.  

2. The genome is one of the largest having 30K bases. 

3. The RNA is encased in a helical capsid, which in turn is encased in an envelope. 

4. Coming to the most important structure, the surface of the virus. It contains 3 proteins. 
- Spike protein
- Hemagglutinin protein
- Envelope protein 
All of these are embedded in a lipid bilayer. 

5. The Spike protein is further subdivided into S1 and S2. Multiple S2 subunits support one S1 subunit. This protein is responsible for attachment to ACE-2 receptors of the host. 

6. The Spike protein by far is the only surface protein of concern. 

Written by Sushrut
Illustration by Anagha Rao


  1. What is the size/thickness of the virus?

    1. SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the betaCoVs category. It has round or elliptic and often pleomorphic form, and a diameter of approximately 60–140 nm.

      Reference: Cascella M, Rajnik M, Cuomo A, et al. Features, Evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (COVID-19) [Updated 2020 Mar 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554776/


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