Image of the Day: Coronavirus in 3D

At Bessy II, a synchrotron radiation facility in Berlin, scientists use X-rays to study the structure of SARS-CoV-2.

Amy Schleunes
Mar 25, 2020
The main protease of SARS-CoV-2 is a dimer, one half of which is colored green and purple, while the other half is colored gray. The yellow molecule binds to the protease’s active center and may serve as a model for an inhibitor.

The architecture of the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 has been mapped in 3D using high intensity X-ray imaging, according to a report published on March 20 in Science. The enzyme is “an attractive drug target among coronaviruses,” the authors write, because inhibiting it would block the virus’s ability to replicate.

L. Zhang et al., “Crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 main protease provides a basis for design of improved α-ketoamide inhibitors,” Science, doi:10.1126/science.abb3405, 2020.

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at