A novel severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) recently emerged and is rapidly spreading in humans, causing COVID-191,2. A key to tackling this pandemic is to understand the receptor recognition mechanism of the virus, which regulates its infectivity, pathogenesis and host range. SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV recognize the same receptor—angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)—in humans3,4. Here we determined the crystal structure of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (engineered to facilitate crystallization) in complex with ACE2. In comparison with the SARS-CoV RBD, an ACE2-binding ridge in SARS-CoV-2 RBD has a more compact conformation; moreover, several residue changes in the SARS-CoV-2 RBD stabilize two virus-binding hotspots at the RBD–ACE2 interface. These structural features of SARS-CoV-2 RBD increase its ACE2-binding affinity. Additionally, we show that RaTG13, a bat coronavirus that is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, also uses human ACE2 as its receptor. The differences among SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and RaTG13 in ACE2 recognition shed light on the potential animal-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2. This study provides guidance for intervention strategies that target receptor recognition by SARS-CoV-2.
Shang, J., Ye, G., Shi, K. et al. Structural basis of receptor recognition by SARS-CoV-2. Nature (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2179-y