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How COVID-19 Wreaks Havoc on Human Lungs

Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Caption: New structure shows how the COVID-19 virus envelope protein (E, magenta sticks) interacts with a human cell-junction protein (PALS1, surfaces colored in blue, green, and orange). Understanding this complex structure, which was solved using a cryo-electron microscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory, could lead to the discovery of drugs that block the interaction and, potentially, the most severe effects of COVID-19.

Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Caption: A closeup of the COVID-19 virus envelope protein (magenta) and its interaction with specific amino acids that form a hydrophobic pocket on PALS1 (blue, green, and orange).

Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Caption: Deciphering the structure of the COVID-19 virus E protein bound to human PALS1: Starting with a motion-corrected cryo-EM micrograph of grainy nanometer-scale specks (a), image-processing and two-dimensional averaging produced low-resolution projections of the bound proteins from different orientations (b). Computational tools then transformed these 2-D images into a 3-D map (c). Blue indicates the highest-resolution, most stable parts, and red indicates lower-resolution parts with more flexibility. This map provides enough detail to fit the amino acid building blocks of the two proteins into a final structure of the complex (d), where different parts of PALS1 are shown in blue, green, and orange and the viral E protein is magenta.


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