The Envelope protein (E) is one of the four structural proteins encoded by the genome of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 Coronaviruses. It is an integral membrane protein, highly expressed in the host cell, which is known to have an important role in Coronaviruses maturation, assembly and virulence. The E protein presents a PDZ-binding motif at its C-terminus. One of the key interactors of the E protein in the intracellular environment is the PDZ containing protein PALS1. This interaction is known to play a key role in the SARS-CoV pathology and suspected to affect the integrity of the lung epithelia. In this paper we measured and compared the affinity of peptides mimicking the E protein from SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 for the PDZ domain of PALS1, through equilibrium and kinetic binding experiments. Our results support the hypothesis that the increased virulence of SARS-CoV-2 compared to SARS-CoV may rely on the increased affinity of its Envelope protein for PALS1. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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