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

Tze Hsiang Chien, Ya Ling Chiang, Chin Pei Chen, Petra Henklein, Karen Hänel, Ing Shouh Hwang, Dieter Willbold, Wolfgang B. Fischer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-635
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • ORF3a of SARS-CoV
  • bilayer recordings
  • ion channel
  • self-assembly
  • transmembrane peptides and proteins


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