Get access

Assembling an ion channel: ORF 3a from SARS-CoV


  • This article was originally published online as an accepted preprint. The “Published Online” date corresponds to the preprint version. You can request a copy of the preprint by emailing the Biopolymers editorial office at

Correspondence to: W. B. Fischer; e-mail:


Protein 3a is a 274 amino acid polytopic channel protein with three putative transmembrane domains (TMDs) encoded by severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus (SARS-CoV). Synthetic peptides corresponding to each of its three individual transmembrane domains (TMDs) are reconstituted into artificial lipid bilayers. Only TMD2 and TMD3 induce channel activity. Reconstitution of the peptides as TMD1 + TMD3 as well as TMD2 + TMD3 in a 1 : 1 mixture induces membrane activity for both mixtures. In a 1 : 1 : 1 mixture, channel like behavior is almost restored. Expression of full length 3a and reconstitution into artificial lipid bilayers reveal a weak cation selective (PK ≈ 2 PCl) rectifying channel. In the presence of nonphysiological concentration of Ca-ions the channel develops channel activity. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 99:628–635, 2013.

Get access to the full text of this article