The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is made up of large molecules (“macromolecules”). These molecules form the virus hull and its protruding spikes, which allow it to infect a host cell, and, once the cell is infected, produce new copies of the virus. Macromolecules make up the virus and form the machinery that allows it to replicate. If we can understand them, we find a cure, since both antibodies (produced from vaccines) and small molecules (drugs) bind to these molecules. Understanding the molecules that make up coronavirus is a key step to stopping COVID-19.
The virus has 29 different macromolecules (28 proteins and the RNA), of which17 3D structures are known. There are approximately 400 individual experimentally determined structures, which researchers can find in the Protein Data Bank (PDB).
The Coronavirus Structural Task Force examines the structures from SARS and SARS-CoV-2 which are released to evaluate the quality and improve the structures where possible. As we are a team of structural biology methods developers, we are also expert users and seek to get every last bit of information from the data.
We then offer the original authors to update their entry in the Protein Data Bank, and also make our checks and the improved structures available to downstream users, for example [email protected], the EU JEDI COVID-19 challenge, MolSSI, 3DBionotes as well as modellers and drug developers all around the globe. In addition to that, we put the structures into context for newcomers to the field and reach out to the public about our work.
Downstream users can find guidance here.