Understanding the Phase Separation Characteristics of Nucleocapsid Protein Provides a New Therapeutic Opportunity Against SARS-CoV-2
Dan Zhao#, Weifan Xu#, Xiaofan Zhang#, Xiaoting Wang, Enming Yuan, Yuanpeng Xiong, Shenyang Wu, Shuya Li, Nian Wu, Tingzhong Tian, Xiaolong Feng, Hantao Shu, Peng Lang, Xiaokun Shen, Haitao Li, Pilong Li,* and Jianyang Zeng*
To date, tens of millions of people have been infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing the outbreak of the respiratory disease named the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). As a newly emerged member of the coronavirus family, SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped positive-strand RNA virus, which has probably the largest genome (approximately 30 kb) among all RNA viruses. The nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2 is mainly responsible for recognizing and wrapping viral RNA into helically symmetric structures (Malik, 2020). It was also reported that N protein can boost the efficiency of transcription and replication of viral RNA, implying its vital and multifunctional roles in the life cycle of coronavirus (Surjit and Lal, 2008; Chang et al., 2014). Recently, several independent research teams have reported that N protein of SARS-CoV-2 is capable of undergoing liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) (Iserman et al., 2020; Perdikari et al., 2020; Savastano et al., 2020).