A novel coronavirus [severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)] outbreak has caused a global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, resulting in tens of thousands of infections and thousands of deaths worldwide. The RNA-dependent RNA polymerase [(RdRp), also named nsp12] is the central component of coronaviral replication and transcription machinery, and it appears to be a primary target for the antiviral drug remdesivir. We report the cryo–electron microscopy structure of COVID-19 virus full-length nsp12 in complex with cofactors nsp7 and nsp8 at 2.9-angstrom resolution. In addition to the conserved architecture of the polymerase core of the viral polymerase family, nsp12 possesses a newly identified b-hairpin domain at its N terminus. A comparative analysis model shows how remdesivir binds to this polymerase. The structure provides a basis for the design of new antiviral therapeutics that target viral RdRp.
Gao, Y., Yan, L., Huang, Y., Liu, F., Zhao, Y., Cao, L., … Rao, Z. (2020). Structure of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase from COVID-19 virus. Science, 368(6492), 779–782. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abb7498