Tsinghua University-Institute of Biophysics, CAS Joint Research Group for Structural Biology
Zihe Rao's group has been active in SARS basic research since the 2003 global outbreak, and was the first to determine the crystal structure of a key replicase protein encoded by the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) - the main protease or Mpro - and its complex with an inhibitor. His group has since made a number of important breakthroughs in SARS research, and the major achievements include: wide spectrum inhibitor design targeting coronavirus Mpro; the elucidation of the autocleavage mechanism of coronavirus Mpro; the structures of the spike (S) protein fusion cores from SARS-CoV and MHV; the structure of the super-complex between two SARS non-structural proteins, nsp7 and nsp8; the dodecamer structure of the SARS non-structural protein nsp10; and the hexamer structure of the MHV non-structural protein nsp15, an endoribonuclease. With more than 18 protein and complex structures from SARS-CoV and related coronaviruses to date, Zihe Rao's group has provided important structural insights into coronavirus replication/transcription.
References:  Yang, H. et al. & Rao, Z. (2005). PLoS Biol 3, e324.  Zhai, Y. et al. & Rao, Z. (2005). Nat Struct Mol Biol 12, 980-6.  Bartlam, M., Yang, H. & Rao, Z. (2005). Curr Opin Struct Biol 15, 664-72. Xu, Y. et al. & Rao, Z. (2004). J Biol Chem 279, 30514-22.  Xu, Y. et al. & Rao, Z. (2004). J Biol Chem 279, 49414-9.  Xu, Y. et al & Rao, Z. (2004). Biochemistry 43, 14064-71.  Yang, H. et al. & Rao, Z. (2003). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 100, 13190-5.