Glycosylation and disulfide bonding profile of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein

Extreme acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus illness 19 (COVID-19), makes use of its spike (S) glycoprotein to enter host cells. The S glycoprotein consists of roughly 35% carbohydrate, affecting SARS-CoV-2’s infectivity and susceptibility to antibody inhibition. The S protein is the first goal of neutralizing antibodies elicited by pure an infection and by vaccines.

Study: Glycosylation and disulfide bonding of wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein. Image Credit: Alpha Tauri 3D Graphics/ShutterstockExamine: Glycosylation and disulfide bonding of wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein. Picture Credit score: Alpha Tauri 3D Graphics/Shutterstock

Examine design

In a current research posted to the journal Virology, researchers discovered that virus-like particles (VLPs) produced by co-expression of SARS-CoV-2 S, membrane (M), envelope (E), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins comprise S glycoproteins, that are modified by complicated carbohydrates. In addition they studied the disulfide bond and glycosylation profile of S glycoproteins to grasp their right conformation and the composition of the sugar moieties on their floor. 

As well as, the researchers evaluated the implications of pure variations in O-linked sugar addition and the cysteine residues concerned in disulfide bond formation. N-linked glycans, akin to Asn 234, on wild-type SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein trimer are modified within the Golgi-complex of the host cell. The glycans are extracted in pure kind utilizing a fucose-selective lectin, a processed glycan, to find out its glycosylation and disulfide bond profile.

Key findings

The native SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein was studied intimately utilizing a 293T cell line (293T-S) that expresses the wild-type S glycoprotein below managed situations, induced by a tetracycline-inducible promoter.  The S glycoprotein was labeled with a carboxy-terminal 2xStrep affinity tag for purification.

Then the 293T-S cells have been handled with doxycycline. These cells expressed the S glycoprotein, cleavable into the S1 exterior and S2 transmembrane glycoproteins. These occasions point out that the preparation retained the closed conformation of the S glycoprotein. Moreover, additionally they set up that the purified S glycoproteins bind angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and practically all of the S glycoproteins on VLPs might be modified by complicated carbohydrates.

Mass spectrometry (MS) was used to find out the disulfide bond topology of the purified S glycoproteins. Utilizing this method, researchers recognized disulfide-linked peptides within the tryptic digests of the S glycoprotein preparation. They mapped ten and 5 disulfide bonds in S1 and S2 and another disulfide bond in S1, between Cys 131 and Cys 136.

The outcomes of mass spectrometry additionally defined the glycosylation of S glycoproteins intimately. It detected a complete of 826 distinctive N-linked glycopeptides and 17 O-linked glycopeptides. It revealed that O-linked glycosylation happens at seven glycosylation websites: S659, S673, S680, S1170, T676, T696, and T1160.

The S glycoproteins produced within the GALE/GALK2 293T cell-line shaped pseudotype vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) vectors that exhibited decrease infectivity in comparison with the viruses made by S glycoproteins produced within the 293T cells. As a result of the post-translational modification of S glycoproteins within the two cell varieties occurs in another way, it adjustments the S glycoprotein perform.

The pure variants of SARS-CoV-2 S glycoproteins are uncommon and are shaped by substitutions at one among its cysteine residues, compromising the formation of some disulfide bonds. These variants alter the expression, processing, and features of S glycoproteins. Upon critically inspecting these variants and their influence on S glycoproteins, the outcomes indicated that just one Cys15Phe mutant (C15F) remained partially infective, though it was not very steady. The sensitivity of the 2 most replication-competent S glycoprotein mutants, T676I and S1170F, was analyzed. No vital distinction was discovered within the neutralization sensitivity of the wild-type and mutant viruses.


The research’s outcomes align with earlier research suggesting the predominance of complicated carbohydrates of the SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein trimer. In contrast with the opposite trimers characterised over time, the wild-type S glycoproteins purified on this research exhibited extra glycan processing. The variations noticed in glycosylation profiles might be attributed to some particular S glycoprotein constructs used within the research. Nonetheless, the research outcomes improve the understanding of glycans positioned on the S glycoprotein trimer by inspecting their nature and function within the wild-type SARS-CoV-2.

These outcomes give an in-depth data of how these glycans influence pure variation within the glycosylated or disulfide-bonded websites. With enhanced data of SARS-CoV-2 biology and the wild-type S glycoprotein, particularly glycans, it will be doable to design higher preventive measures akin to vaccines and antibody-based therapies in opposition to SARS-CoV-2 infections sooner or later.

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