SARS-CoV-2 Nsp3 unique domain SUD interacts with guanine quadruplexes and G4-ligands inhibit this interaction
The multidomain non-structural protein 3 (Nsp3) is the largest protein encoded by coronavirus (CoV) genomes and several regions of this protein are essential for viral replication. Of note, SARS-CoV Nsp3 contains a SARS-Unique Domain (SUD), which can bind Guanine-rich non-canonical nucleic acid structures called G-quadruplexes (G4) and is essential for SARS-CoV replication. We show herein that the SARS-CoV-2 Nsp3 protein also contains a SUD domain that interacts with G4s. Indeed, interactions between SUD proteins and both DNA and RNA G4s were evidenced by G4 pull-down, Surface Plasmon Resonance and Homogenous Time Resolved Fluorescence. These interactions can be disrupted by mutations that prevent oligonucleotides from folding into G4 structures and, interestingly, by molecules known as specific ligands of these G4s. Structural models for these interactions are proposed and reveal significant differences with the crystallographic and modeled 3D structures of the SARS-CoV SUD-NM/G4 interaction. Altogether, our results pave the way for further studies on the role of SUD/G4 interactions during SARS-CoV-2 replication and the use of inhibitors of these interactions as potential antiviral compounds.