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In ACS omega

In this paper, we present the parameterization of the CAVS coarse-grained (CG) force field for 20 amino acids, and our CG simulations show that the CAVS force field could accurately predict the amino acid tendency of the secondary structure. Then, we used the CAVS force field to investigate the binding of a severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus fusion peptide (SARS-CoV-2 FP) to a phospholipid bilayer: a long FP (FP-L) containing 40 amino acids and a short FP (FP-S) containing 26 amino acids. Our CAVS CG simulations displayed that the binding affinity of the FP-L to the bilayer is higher than that of the FP-S. We found that the FP-L interacted more strongly with membrane cholesterol than the FP-S, which should be attributed to the stable helical structure of the FP-L at the C-terminus. In addition, we discovered that the FP-S had one major and two minor membrane-bound states, in agreement with previous all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) studies. However, we found that both the C-terminal and N-terminal amino acid residues of the FP-L can strongly interact with the bilayer membrane. Furthermore, we found that the disulfide bond formed between Cys840 and Cys851 stabilized the helices of the FP-L at the C-terminus, enhancing the interaction between the FP-L and the bilayer membrane. Our work indicates that the stable helical structure is crucial for binding the SARS-CoV-2 FP to cell membranes. In particular, the helical stability of FP should have a significant influence on the FP-membrane binding.

Shen Hujun, Wu Zhenhua