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PLoS Biol ; 21(2): e3001989, 2023 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2236129


Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the cell-surface receptor for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). While its central role in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pathogenesis is indisputable, there remains significant debate regarding the role of this transmembrane carboxypeptidase in the disease course. These include the role of soluble versus membrane-bound ACE2, as well as ACE2-independent mechanisms that may contribute to viral spread. Testing these roles requires in vivo models. Here, we report humanized ACE2-floxed mice in which hACE2 is expressed from the mouse Ace2 locus in a manner that confers lethal disease and permits cell-specific, Cre-mediated loss of function, and LSL-hACE2 mice in which hACE2 is expressed from the Rosa26 locus enabling cell-specific, Cre-mediated gain of function. Following exposure to SARS-CoV-2, hACE2-floxed mice experienced lethal cachexia, pulmonary infiltrates, intravascular thrombosis and hypoxemia-hallmarks of severe COVID-19. Cre-mediated loss and gain of hACE2 demonstrate that neuronal infection confers lethal cachexia, hypoxemia, and respiratory failure in the absence of lung epithelial infection. In this series of genetic experiments, we demonstrate that ACE2 is absolutely and cell-autonomously required for SARS-CoV-2 infection in the olfactory epithelium, brain, and lung across diverse cell types. Therapies inhibiting or blocking ACE2 at these different sites are likely to be an effective strategy towards preventing severe COVID-19.

COVID-19 , Mice , Animals , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Cachexia , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Hypoxia
NPJ Vaccines ; 7(1): 166, 2022 Dec 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2185872


Experimental vaccines for the deadly zoonotic Nipah (NiV), Hendra (HeV), and Ebola (EBOV) viruses have focused on targeting individual viruses, although their geographical and bat reservoir host overlaps warrant creation of multivalent vaccines. Here we explored whether replication-incompetent pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) virions or NiV-based virus-like particles (VLPs) were suitable multivalent vaccine platforms by co-incorporating multiple surface glycoproteins from NiV, HeV, and EBOV onto these virions. We then enhanced the vaccines' thermotolerance using carbohydrates to enhance applicability in global regions that lack cold-chain infrastructure. Excitingly, in a Syrian hamster model of disease, the VSV multivalent vaccine elicited safe, strong, and protective neutralizing antibody responses against challenge with NiV, HeV, or EBOV. Our study provides proof-of-principle evidence that replication-incompetent multivalent viral particle vaccines are sufficient to provide protection against multiple zoonotic deadly viruses with high pandemic potential.

Nature ; 605(7909): 340-348, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1764188


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains a global public health crisis. Although widespread vaccination campaigns are underway, their efficacy is reduced owing to emerging variants of concern1,2. Development of host-directed therapeutics and prophylactics could limit such resistance and offer urgently needed protection against variants of concern3,4. Attractive pharmacological targets to impede viral entry include type-II transmembrane serine proteases (TTSPs) such as TMPRSS2; these proteases cleave the viral spike protein to expose the fusion peptide for cell entry, and thus have an essential role in the virus lifecycle5,6. Here we identify and characterize a small-molecule compound, N-0385, which exhibits low nanomolar potency and a selectivity index of higher than 106 in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung cells and in donor-derived colonoids7. In Calu-3 cells it inhibits the entry of the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma) and B.1.617.2 (Delta). Notably, in the K18-human ACE2 transgenic mouse model of severe COVID-19, we found that N-0385 affords a high level of prophylactic and therapeutic benefit after multiple administrations or even after a single administration. Together, our findings show that TTSP-mediated proteolytic maturation of the spike protein is critical for SARS-CoV-2 infection in vivo, and suggest that N-0385 provides an effective early treatment option against COVID-19 and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Serine Proteinase Inhibitors , Animals , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Serine Endopeptidases , Serine Proteinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , Serine Proteinase Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization/drug effects
Nat Rev Microbiol ; 20(5): 299-314, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1526083


In the past two decades, three coronaviruses with ancestral origins in bats have emerged and caused widespread outbreaks in humans, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Since the first SARS epidemic in 2002-2003, the appreciation of bats as key hosts of zoonotic coronaviruses has advanced rapidly. More than 4,000 coronavirus sequences from 14 bat families have been identified, yet the true diversity of bat coronaviruses is probably much greater. Given that bats are the likely evolutionary source for several human coronaviruses, including strains that cause mild upper respiratory tract disease, their role in historic and future pandemics requires ongoing investigation. We review and integrate information on bat-coronavirus interactions at the molecular, tissue, host and population levels. We identify critical gaps in knowledge of bat coronaviruses, which relate to spillover and pandemic risk, including the pathways to zoonotic spillover, the infection dynamics within bat reservoir hosts, the role of prior adaptation in intermediate hosts for zoonotic transmission and the viral genotypes or traits that predict zoonotic capacity and pandemic potential. Filling these knowledge gaps may help prevent the next pandemic.

COVID-19 , Chiroptera , Animals , Evolution, Molecular , Humans , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics