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medrxiv; 2023.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2023.02.10.23285332


Rationale: High levels of hyaluronan in lungs and blood associate with COVID-19 severity. However, the effects on systemic hyaluronan concentrations and the mechanisms involved in the pathological overproduction of hyaluronan upon SARS-CoV-2 infection remain incompletely characterized. Objectives: To determine how hyaluronan levels in blood of COVID-19 patients change over time and investigate SARS-CoV-2 impact on hyaluronan metabolism along with the effect of corticosteroid treatment. Methods: The concentrations of hyaluronan were measured in blood plasma from patients with mild (WHO Clinical Progression Scale, WHO-CPS, 1-5) and severe COVID-19 (WHO-CPS 6-9), both during the acute and convalescent phases. Primary human bronchial epithelial cells isolated from healthy donors were differentiated into an in vitro 3D-lung model and used to study effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection and corticosteroids treatment on hyaluronan metabolism. Measurements and Main results: Compared to healthy controls, both patients with mild and severe COVID-19 showed elevated plasma hyaluronan concentrations, which increased with disease severity. A reduction was observed over time, but hyaluronan levels remained elevated for at least 12 weeks, especially in women. SARS-CoV-2 infection in the 3D-lung model showed upregulation of inflammatory genes, hyaluronan synthases and downregulation of hyaluronidases, which increased the overall hyaluronan concentration. Notably, several of these effects were counteracted by corticosteroid treatment. Conclusions: Overproduction of hyaluronan plays a role in the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and hyaluronan levels in blood remain elevated over time. The in vitro mechanism for the positive effects of corticosteroid treatment in COVID-19 suggests a combined action of reduced inflammation and counteraction of hyaluronan synthesis.

Inflammation , COVID-19
biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.10.07.511324


The infection and replication cycle of all viruses depend on interactions between viral and host proteins. Each of these protein-protein interactions is therefore a potential drug target. These host-virus interactions often involve a disordered protein region on one side of the interface and a folded protein domain on the other. Here, we used proteomic peptide phage display (ProP-PD) to identify peptides from the intrinsically disordered regions of the human proteome that bind to folded protein domains encoded by the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Eleven folded domains of SARS-CoV-2 proteins were found to bind peptides from human proteins. Of 281 high/medium confidence peptides, 23 interactions involving eight SARS-CoV-2 protein domains were tested by fluorescence polarization, and binding was observed with affinities spanning the whole micromolar range. The key specificity determinants were established for six of these domains, two based on ProP-PD and four by alanine scanning SPOT arrays. Finally, two cell-penetrating peptides, targeting Nsp9 and Nsp16, respectively, were shown to function as inhibitors of viral replication. Our findings demonstrate how high-throughput peptide binding screens simultaneously provide information on potential host-virus interactions and identify ligands with antiviral properties.

Parkinson Disease
biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.08.18.504268


Viruses are dependent on interactions with host factors in order to efficiently establish an infection and replicate. Targeting such interactions provides an attractive strategy to develop novel antivirals. Syntenin is a protein known to regulate the architecture of cellular membranes by its involvement in protein trafficking, and has previously been shown to be important for HPV infection. Here we show that a highly potent and metabolically stable peptide inhibitor that binds to the PDZ1 domain of syntenin inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection by blocking the endosomal entry of the virus. Furthermore, we found that the inhibitor also hampered chikungunya infection, and strongly reduced flavivirus infection, which are completely dependent on receptor mediated endocytosis for their entry. In conclusion, we have identified a novel pan-viral inhibitor that efficiently target a broad range of RNA viruses.

Chikungunya Fever , Infections , Flavivirus Infections , COVID-19
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.04.19.440086


Viral proteins make extensive use of short peptide interaction motifs to hijack cellular host factors. However, most current large-scale methods do not identify this important class of protein-protein interactions. Uncovering peptide mediated interactions provides both a molecular understanding of viral interactions with their host and the foundation for developing novel antiviral reagents. Here we describe a scalable viral peptide discovery approach covering 229 RNA viruses that provides high resolution information on direct virus-host interactions. We identify 269 peptide-based interactions for 18 coronaviruses including a specific interaction between the human G3BP1/2 proteins and an [FILV]xFG peptide motif in the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein. This interaction supports viral replication and through its [FILV]xFG motif N rewires the G3BP1/2 interactome to disrupt stress granules. A peptide-based inhibitor disrupting the G3BP1/2-N interaction blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection showing that our results can be directly translated into novel specific antiviral reagents.

medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.07.13.20152272


The retrospective analysis of clinical data of patients suffering from COVID-19 has indicated that statin therapy, used to lower plasma cholesterol levels, is associated with a better clinical outcome. We therefore investigated the effect of statins on SARS-CoV-2 infection and found that selective statins reduced SARS-CoV-2 cell entry and inhibited high and low pathogenic coronavirus infection in human cells. A retrospective study on hospitalized patients with COVID-19 implies that reduced high density lipoprotein levels, which are typically counteracted by statin therapy, are associated with aggravated disease outcome. These results suggest that statin therapy poses no additional risk to individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and that some statins may have a mild beneficial effect on COVID-19 outcome.

Coronavirus Infections , COVID-19
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.06.02.20120477


To assess the current coronavirus pandemic, there is a pressing need to determine the exposure and seroconversion to SARS-CoV-2 on a local and global level. Here, we demonstrate a sensitive and specific S-protein based assay that is well suited for detection of weak SARS- CoV-2-directed IgG responses, and that could identify exposed individuals with asymptomatic infection without the requirement of PCR diagnostics. Our results raise the possibility that on- going population-based studies using less sensitive state-of-the-art serological assays may significantly underestimate the frequency of exposure and seroconversion to SARS-CoV-2.