COVID-19, a recently established global pandemic, is linked to infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This virus shares many structural similarities to the SARS-CoV virus that was responsible for the 2003-2004 SARS outbreak1.SARS-CoV-2 (thought to be a -coronavirus of B lineage2) is responsible for causing COVID-19 and shares many similarities to other viruses in the coronavirus family. Coronavirus comprise the Coronavirinae subfamily, which exists within the Coronaviridae family of the Nidovirales order3. Coronavirinae make up the largest of viruses, being approximately 30 kilobases long, and contain positive-sense RNA strands enveloped in a nucleocapsid (unusual for positive-sense RNA)4. The spike protein (S) participates in the binding of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and subsequent fusion of the viral and host cellular membrane. It is comprised of 22 of the 23 N-glycosylation sites that are found in SARS-CoV, and 76% of the protein’s genomic sequence is shared between the two viruses2,5. This review discusses the mechanism of action between the S protein and the host cell receptor.

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