Acta Crystallographica Section D

Biological Crystallography

Volume 70, Part 2 (February 2014)

research papers

Acta Cryst. (2014). D70, 572-581    [ doi:10.1107/S1399004713031040 ]

Structural basis for catalysis and ubiquitin recognition by the Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus papain-like protease

C.-Y. Chou, H.-Y. Lai, H.-Y. Chen, S.-C. Cheng, K.-W. Cheng and Y.-W. Chou

Abstract: Papain-like protease (PLpro) is one of two cysteine proteases involved in the proteolytic processing of the polyproteins of Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). PLpro also shows significant in vitro deubiquitinating and de-ISGylating activities, although the detailed mechanism is still unclear. Here, the crystal structure of SARS-CoV PLpro C112S mutant in complex with ubiquitin (Ub) is reported at 1.4 Å resolution. The Ub core makes mostly hydrophilic interactions with PLpro, while the Leu-Arg-Gly-Gly C-terminus of Ub is located in the catalytic cleft of PLpro, mimicking the P4-P1 residues and providing the first atomic insights into its catalysis. One of the O atoms of the C-­terminal Gly residue of Ub is located in the oxyanion hole consisting of the main-chain amides of residues 112 and 113. Mutations of residues in the PLpro-Ub interface lead to reduced catalytic activity, confirming their importance for Ub binding and/or catalysis. The structure also revealed an N-­cyclohexyl-2-aminethanesulfonic acid molecule near the catalytic triad, and kinetic studies suggest that this binding site is also used by other PLpro inhibitors. Overall, the structure provides a foundation for understanding the molecular basis of coronaviral PLpro catalysis.

PDB reference: 4m0w

Keywords: papain-like protease; SARS-CoV.

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