The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 emerged as a human pathogen in China at the end of 2019 and has since spread across the globe. Understanding the structure and function of this virus is essential to target vaccines and therapies to tackle the COVID-19 disease.
Rapid analysis of the viral pathogen at the beginning of this pandemic revealed that it belongs to the B beta-CoV lineage1,2. Coronaviruses are enveloped, single-strand RNA viruses characterized by club-like spikes projecting from their surface and an unusually large RNA genome3. The SARS-CoV-2 genome encodes four major structural proteins: the spike (S) protein, nucleocapsid (N) protein, membrane (M) protein and the envelope (E) protein, each of which is essential to compose the viral particle3.