Intermembrane oligomerization of SARS-CoV-2 M-protein: possible role in viral budding

About authors

Center for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Moscow, Russia

Correspondence should be addressed: Konstantin A. Lukyanov
Bolshoy Bulvar, 30, str. 1, Moscow, 121205, Russia; moc.liamg@nitnatsnok.vonaykul

About paper

Funding: the study was funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project number 20-04-60370.

Author contribution: Sokolinskaya EL, Putlyaeva LV, Gorshkova AA — experiments; Lukyanov KA — concept and writing.

Received: 2022-05-13 Accepted: 2022-05-28 Published online: 2022-06-04

Despite the extensive research spurred by the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 pandemic, precise molecular mechanisms of some stages in SARS-CoV-2 life cycle remain elusive. One of such stages is the detachment of viral particles during budding. Using confocal fluorescence microscopy, we observed formation of specific structures by endoplasmic reticulum in human cells expressing SARS-CoV-2 M-protein, implicating oligomerization of M-protein across parallel membranes. In our opinion, such intermembrane oligomerization may provide a driving force for pinching off the viral particles during SARS-CoV-2 budding.

Keywords: fluorescence microscopy, SARS-CoV-2 membrane protein, protein-protein interactions, endoplasmic reticulum, OSER structures, viral budding