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ACS Infect Dis ; 7(10): 2807-2815, 2021 10 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1402020


COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (CoV)-2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus is responsible for an ongoing pandemic and concomitant public health crisis around the world. While vaccine development is proving to be highly successful, parallel drug development approaches are also critical in the response to SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging viruses. Coronaviruses require Ca2+ ions for host cell entry, and we have previously shown that Ca2+ modulates the interaction of the viral fusion peptide with host cell membranes. In an attempt to accelerate drug repurposing, we tested a panel of L-type calcium channel blocker (CCB) drugs currently developed for other conditions to determine whether they would inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection in cell culture. All the CCBs tested showed varying degrees of inhibition, with felodipine and nifedipine strongly limiting SARS-CoV-2 entry and infection in epithelial lung cells at concentrations where cell toxicity was minimal. Further studies with pseudotyped particles displaying the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein suggested that inhibition occurs at the level of virus entry. Overall, our data suggest that certain CCBs have the potential to treat SARS-CoV-2 infections and are worthy of further examination for possible treatment of COVID-19.

COVID-19 , Pharmaceutical Preparations , Calcium Channels, L-Type , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Virus Internalization
ACS Infect Dis ; 7(2): 264-272, 2021 02 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1023823


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) uses its spike (S) protein to mediate viral entry into host cells. Cleavage of the S protein at the S1/S2 and/or S2' site(s) is associated with viral entry, which can occur at either the cell plasma membrane (early pathway) or the endosomal membrane (late pathway), depending on the cell type. Previous studies show that SARS-CoV-2 has a unique insert at the S1/S2 site that can be cleaved by furin, which appears to expand viral tropism to cells with suitable protease and receptor expression. Here, we utilize viral pseudoparticles and protease inhibitors to study the impact of the S1/S2 cleavage on infectivity. Our results demonstrate that S1/S2 cleavage is essential for early pathway entry into Calu-3 cells, a model lung epithelial cell line, but not for late pathway entry into Vero E6 cells, a model cell line. The S1/S2 cleavage was found to be processed by other proteases beyond furin. Using bioinformatic tools, we also analyze the presence of a furin S1/S2 site in related CoVs and offer thoughts on the origin of the insertion of the furin-like cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19/virology , Furin/metabolism , Peptide Hydrolases/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Animals , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Models, Molecular , Peptide Hydrolases/chemistry , Proteolysis , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , Vero Cells , Virus Internalization