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J Virol ; 95(23): e0125721, 2021 11 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1410202


SARS-CoV-2, the etiological agent of COVID-19, is characterized by a delay in type I interferon (IFN-I)-mediated antiviral defenses alongside robust cytokine production. Here, we investigate the underlying molecular basis for this imbalance and implicate virus-mediated activation of NF-κB in the absence of other canonical IFN-I-related transcription factors. Epigenetic and single-cell transcriptomic analyses show a selective NF-κB signature that was most prominent in infected cells. Disruption of NF-κB signaling through the silencing of the NF-κB transcription factor p65 or p50 resulted in loss of virus replication that was rescued upon reconstitution. These findings could be further corroborated with the use of NF-κB inhibitors, which reduced SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro. These data suggest that the robust cytokine production in response to SARS-CoV-2, despite a diminished IFN-I response, is the product of a dependency on NF-κB for viral replication. IMPORTANCE The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant mortality and morbidity around the world. Although effective vaccines have been developed, large parts of the world remain unvaccinated while new SARS-CoV-2 variants keep emerging. Furthermore, despite extensive efforts and large-scale drug screenings, no fully effective antiviral treatment options have been discovered yet. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to gain a better understanding of essential factors driving SARS-CoV-2 replication to be able to develop novel approaches to target SARS-CoV-2 biology.

COVID-19/metabolism , Cytokines/metabolism , Interferon Type I/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Transcription Factor RelA/metabolism , Transcriptome , Virus Replication , A549 Cells , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epigenomics , Gene Expression Regulation , HEK293 Cells , HeLa Cells , Host Microbial Interactions , Humans , Signal Transduction , Single-Cell Analysis , Transcription Factor RelA/antagonists & inhibitors , Transcription Factor RelA/genetics , Transcription Factors/metabolism , Vero Cells
Cell Metab ; 33(8): 1577-1591.e7, 2021 08 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1240259


Recent clinical data have suggested a correlation between coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and diabetes. Here, we describe the detection of SARS-CoV-2 viral antigen in pancreatic beta cells in autopsy samples from individuals with COVID-19. Single-cell RNA sequencing and immunostaining from ex vivo infections confirmed that multiple types of pancreatic islet cells were susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, eliciting a cellular stress response and the induction of chemokines. Upon SARS-CoV-2 infection, beta cells showed a lower expression of insulin and a higher expression of alpha and acinar cell markers, including glucagon and trypsin1, respectively, suggesting cellular transdifferentiation. Trajectory analysis indicated that SARS-CoV-2 induced eIF2-pathway-mediated beta cell transdifferentiation, a phenotype that could be reversed with trans-integrated stress response inhibitor (trans-ISRIB). Altogether, this study demonstrates an example of SARS-CoV-2 infection causing cell fate change, which provides further insight into the pathomechanisms of COVID-19.

COVID-19/virology , Cell Transdifferentiation , Insulin-Secreting Cells/virology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Acetamides/pharmacology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Animals , COVID-19/mortality , Cell Transdifferentiation/drug effects , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cyclohexylamines/pharmacology , Cytokines/metabolism , Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2/metabolism , Female , Glucagon , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Insulin/metabolism , Insulin-Secreting Cells/drug effects , Insulin-Secreting Cells/metabolism , Insulin-Secreting Cells/pathology , Male , Middle Aged , Phenotype , Signal Transduction , Tissue Culture Techniques , Trypsin/metabolism , Vero Cells , Young Adult
mBio ; 12(1)2021 02 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1088198


The global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has mobilized efforts to develop vaccines and antibody-based therapeutics, including convalescent-phase plasma therapy, that inhibit viral entry by inducing or transferring neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike glycoprotein (CoV2-S). However, rigorous efficacy testing requires extensive screening with live virus under onerous biosafety level 3 (BSL3) conditions, which limits high-throughput screening of patient and vaccine sera. Myriad BSL2-compatible surrogate virus neutralization assays (VNAs) have been developed to overcome this barrier. Yet, there is marked variability between VNAs and how their results are presented, making intergroup comparisons difficult. To address these limitations, we developed a standardized VNA using CoV2-S pseudotyped particles (CoV2pp) based on vesicular stomatitis virus bearing the Renilla luciferase gene in place of its G glycoprotein (VSVΔG); this assay can be robustly produced at scale and generate accurate neutralizing titers within 18 h postinfection. Our standardized CoV2pp VNA showed a strong positive correlation with CoV2-S enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) results and live-virus neutralizations in confirmed convalescent-patient sera. Three independent groups subsequently validated our standardized CoV2pp VNA (n > 120). Our data (i) show that absolute 50% inhibitory concentration (absIC50), absIC80, and absIC90 values can be legitimately compared across diverse cohorts, (ii) highlight the substantial but consistent variability in neutralization potency across these cohorts, and (iii) support the use of the absIC80 as a more meaningful metric for assessing the neutralization potency of a vaccine or convalescent-phase sera. Lastly, we used our CoV2pp in a screen to identify ultrapermissive 293T clones that stably express ACE2 or ACE2 plus TMPRSS2. When these are used in combination with our CoV2pp, we can produce CoV2pp sufficient for 150,000 standardized VNAs/week.IMPORTANCE Vaccines and antibody-based therapeutics like convalescent-phase plasma therapy are premised upon inducing or transferring neutralizing antibodies that inhibit SARS-CoV-2 entry into cells. Virus neutralization assays (VNAs) for measuring neutralizing antibody titers (NATs) are an essential part of determining vaccine or therapeutic efficacy. However, such efficacy testing is limited by the inherent dangers of working with the live virus, which requires specialized high-level biocontainment facilities. We therefore developed a standardized replication-defective pseudotyped particle system that mimics the entry of live SARS-CoV-2. This tool allows for the safe and efficient measurement of NATs, determination of other forms of entry inhibition, and thorough investigation of virus entry mechanisms. Four independent labs across the globe validated our standardized VNA using diverse cohorts. We argue that a standardized and scalable assay is necessary for meaningful comparisons of the myriad of vaccines and antibody-based therapeutics becoming available. Our data provide generalizable metrics for assessing their efficacy.

COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay , Humans , Neutralization Tests