Jochheim FA, Tegunov D, Hillen HS, Schmitzova J, Kokic G, Dienemann C, Cramer P
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 uses an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) to replicate and transcribe its genome. Structures of the RdRp revealed a monomeric enzyme composed of the catalytic subunit nsp12, two copies of subunit nsp8, and one copy of subunit nsp7. Here we report an alternative, dimeric form of the coronavirus polymerase and resolve its structure at 4.8 Å resolution. In this structure, the two RdRps contain only one copy of nsp8 and dimerize via their nsp7 subunits to adopt an antiparallel arrangement. We speculate that the RdRp dimer facilitates template switching during production of sub-genomic RNAs for transcription.