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MERS-CoV, intrinsically disordered proteins, protein structure, MoRFs, SLiM

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Middle East respiratory syndrome is a severe respiratory illness caused by an infectious coronavirus. This virus is associated with a high mortality rate, but there is as of yet no effective vaccine or antibody available for human immunity/treatment. Drug design relies on understanding the 3D structures of viral proteins; however, arriving at such understanding is difficult for intrinsically disordered proteins, whose disorder-dependent functions are key to the virus’s biology. Disorder is suggested to provide viral proteins with highly flexible structures and diverse functions that are utilized when invading host organisms and adjusting to new habitats. To date, the functional roles of intrinsically disordered proteins in the mechanisms of MERS-CoV pathogenesis, transmission, and treatment remain unclear. In this study, we performed structural analysis to evaluate the abundance of intrinsic disorder in the MERS-CoV proteome and in individual proteins derived from the MERS-CoV genome. Moreover, we detected disordered protein binding regions, namely, molecular recognition features and short linear motifs. Studying disordered proteins/regions in MERS-CoV could contribute to unlocking the complex riddles of viral infection, exploitation strategies, and drug development approaches in the near future by making it possible to target these important (yet challenging) unstructured regions.

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Viruses, v. 13, issue 2, art. 339