Understanding COVID-19 via Comparative Analysis of Dark Proteomes of SARS-CoV-2, Human SARS and Bat SARS-like Coronaviruses

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SARS coronavirus, Intrinsically disordered proteins, Molecular recognition features, Nucleotide-binding regions, Coronavirus disease 2019

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The recently emerged coronavirus designated as SARS-CoV-2 (also known as 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or Wuhan coronavirus) is a causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is rapidly spreading throughout the world now. More than 1.21 million cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection and more than 67,000 COVID-19-associated mortalities have been reported worldwide till the writing of this article, and these numbers are increasing every passing hour. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the SARS-CoV-2 spread as a global public health emergency and admitted COVID-19 as a pandemic now. Multiple sequence alignment data correlated with the already published reports on SARS-CoV-2 evolution indicated that this virus is closely related to the bat severe acute respiratory syndrome-like coronavirus (bat SARS-like CoV) and the well-studied human SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The disordered regions in viral proteins are associated with the viral infectivity and pathogenicity. Therefore, in this study, we have exploited a set of complementary computational approaches to examine the dark proteomes of SARS-CoV-2, bat SARS-like, and human SARS CoVs by analysing the prevalence of intrinsic disorder in their proteins. According to our findings, SARS-CoV-2 proteome contains very significant levels of structural order. In fact, except for nucleocapsid, Nsp8, and ORF6, the vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 proteins are mostly ordered proteins containing less intrinsically disordered protein regions (IDPRs). However, IDPRs found in SARS-CoV-2 proteins are functionally important. For example, cleavage sites in its replicase 1ab polyprotein are found to be highly disordered, and almost all SARS-CoV-2 proteins contains molecular recognition features (MoRFs), which are intrinsic disorder-based protein–protein interaction sites that are commonly utilized by proteins for interaction with specific partners. The results of our extensive investigation of the dark side of SARS-CoV-2 proteome will have important implications in understanding the structural and non-structural biology of SARS or SARS-like coronaviruses.

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Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, v. 78, p. 1655-1688