Molecular Basis for ADP-Ribose Binding to the Mac1 Domain of SARS-CoV-2 nsp3

David N. Frick, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Rajdeep Virdi, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Nemanja Vuksanovic, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Narayan Dahal, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Nicholas R. Silvaggi, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, has a large RNA genome that encodes numerous proteins that might be targets for antiviral drugs. Some of these proteins, such as the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, helicase, and main protease, are well conserved between SARS-CoV-2 and the original SARS virus, but several others are not. This study examines one of the proteins encoded by SARS-CoV-2 that is most different, a macrodomain of nonstructural protein 3 (nsp3). Although 26% of the amino acids in this SARS-CoV-2 macrodomain differ from those observed in other coronaviruses, biochemical and structural data reveal that the protein retains the ability to bind ADP-ribose, which is an important characteristic of beta coronaviruses and a potential therapeutic target.