What 2000 macromolecular structures tell us about SARS-CoV-2

Andrea Thorn

Andrea Thorn

During the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists rushed to solve the structures encoded by the SARS- CoV-2 genome in order to understand the viral infection cycle and to enable drug design. Over 2000 macromolecular structures were released in a short time span, which immediately were used to understand how the virus hijacks human cells, for drug and vaccine design. However, errors occur in even the most careful structure determination - and may be even more common among these structures. The Coronavirus Structural Task Force [1] has responded to this challenge by rapidly evaluating and reviewing all of these structures. In addition, we provided improved models for key structures online, set up a website (www.insidecorona.net) and data base. We also engaged in outreach activities, writing blog posts for scientists and the public alike, refining structures live on Twitch and offering a 3D printable virus model. We were an ad hoc collaboration of 26 researchers across nine time zones, brought together by the desire to fight the pandemic. Still, we were able to rapidly establish a host of COVID-19 related research, forge friendships and collaborations across national boundaries, spread knowledge about the virus and provide improved models for drug discovery projects. Now, after more than two years, we have consolidated our collective knowledge about the virus, and can leverage this insight for the question: What is next?

[1] Croll et al. (2021) NSMB 28, 404–408 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41594-021-00593-7

 

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