Grad student Nicholas Wong and Dr. Saier just published a review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences about the infection cycle of SARS-coronavirus with emphasis on the role played by viral membrane proteins. The title is: “The SARS-Coronavirus Infection Cycle: A Survey of Viral Membrane Proteins, Their Functional Interactions and Pathogenesis“. For your convenience, these are the links to PubMed and PMC.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel epidemic strain of Betacoronavirus that is responsible for the current viral pandemic, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a global health crisis. Other epidemic Betacoronaviruses include the 2003 SARS-CoV-1 and the 2009 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the genomes of which, particularly that of SARS-CoV-1, are similar to that of the 2019 SARS-CoV-2. In this extensive review, we document the most recent information on Coronavirus proteins, with emphasis on the membrane proteins in the Coronaviridae family. We include information on their structures, functions, and participation in pathogenesis. While the shared proteins among the different coronaviruses may vary in structure and function, they all seem to be multifunctional, a common theme interconnecting these viruses. Many transmembrane proteins encoded within the SARS-CoV-2 genome play important roles in the infection cycle while others have functions yet to be understood. We compare the various structural and nonstructural proteins within the Coronaviridae family to elucidate potential overlaps and parallels in function, focusing primarily on the transmembrane proteins and their influences on host membrane arrangements, secretory pathways, cellular growth inhibition, cell death and immune responses during the viral replication cycle. We also offer bioinformatic analyses of potential viroporin activities of the membrane proteins and their sequence similarities to the Envelope (E) protein. In the last major part of the review, we discuss complement, stimulation of inflammation, and immune evasion/suppression that leads to CoV-derived severe disease and mortality. The overall pathogenesis and disease progression of CoVs is put into perspective by indicating several stages in the resulting infection process in which both host and antiviral therapies could be targeted to block the viral cycle. Lastly, we discuss the development of adaptive immunity against various structural proteins, indicating specific vulnerable regions in the proteins. We discuss current CoV vaccine development approaches with purified proteins, attenuated viruses and DNA vaccines.