The role of the envelope protein in the stability of a coronavirus model membrane against an ethanolic disinfectant

Shubhadip Das*, Melissa K. Meinel, Zhenghao Wu, Florian Müller-Plathe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Ethanol is highly effective against various enveloped viruses and can disable the virus by disintegrating the protective envelope surrounding it. The interactions between the coronavirus envelope (E) protein and its membrane environment play key roles in the stability and function of the viral envelope. By using molecular dynamics simulation, we explore the underlying mechanism of ethanol-induced disruption of a model coronavirus membrane and, in detail, interactions of the E-protein and lipids. We model the membrane bilayer as N-palmitoyl-sphingomyelin and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoylphosphatidylcholine lipids and the coronavirus E-protein. The study reveals that ethanol causes an increase in the lateral area of the bilayer along with thinning of the bilayer membrane and orientational disordering of lipid tails. Ethanol resides at the head-tail region of the membrane and enhances bilayer permeability. We found an envelope-protein-mediated increase in the ordering of lipid tails. Our simulations also provide important insights into the orientation of the envelope protein in a model membrane environment. At ∼25 mol. % of ethanol in the surrounding ethanol-water phase, we observe disintegration of the lipid bilayer and dislocation of the E-protein from the membrane environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number245101
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


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