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1.
Viruses ; 14(2):172, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1625168

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten healthcare systems worldwide due to the limited access to vaccines, suboptimal treatment options, and the continuous emergence of new and more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants. Reverse-genetics studies of viral genes and mutations have proven highly valuable in advancing basic virus research, leading to the development of therapeutics. We developed a functional and highly versatile full-length SARS-CoV-2 infectious system by cloning the sequence of a COVID-19 associated virus isolate (DK-AHH1) into a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). Viruses recovered after RNA-transfection of in vitro transcripts into Vero E6 cells showed growth kinetics and remdesivir susceptibility similar to the DK-AHH1 virus isolate. Insertion of reporter genes, green fluorescent protein, and nanoluciferase into the ORF7 genomic region led to high levels of reporter activity, which facilitated high throughput treatment experiments. We found that putative coronavirus remdesivir resistance-associated substitutions F480L and V570L—and naturally found polymorphisms A97V, P323L, and N491S, all in nsp12—did not decrease SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility to remdesivir. A nanoluciferase reporter clone with deletion of spike (S), envelope (E), and membrane (M) proteins exhibited high levels of transient replication, was inhibited by remdesivir, and therefore could function as an efficient non-infectious subgenomic replicon system. The developed SARS-CoV-2 reverse-genetics systems, including recombinants to modify infectious viruses and non-infectious subgenomic replicons with autonomous genomic RNA replication, will permit high-throughput cell culture studies—providing fundamental understanding of basic biology of this coronavirus. We have proven the utility of the systems in rapidly introducing mutations in nsp12 and studying their effect on the efficacy of remdesivir, which is used worldwide for the treatment of COVID-19. Our system provides a platform to effectively test the antiviral activity of drugs and the phenotype of SARS-CoV-2 mutants.

2.
Vaccines ; 10(1):75, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1614027

ABSTRACT

With increasing numbers of vaccine-breakthrough infections worldwide, assessing the immunogenicity of vaccinated health-care workers that are frequently exposed to SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals is important. In this study, neutralization titers against SARS-CoV-2 were assessed one month after completed prime-boost vaccine regimens in health-care workers vaccinated with either mRNA–mRNA (Comirnaty®, BioNTech-Pfzier, Mainz, Germany/New York, NY, USA, n = 98) or vector-based (Vaxzevria®, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK) followed by mRNA-based (Comirnaty®or Spikevax®, Moderna, Cambridge, MA, USA) vaccines (n = 16). Vaccine-induced neutralization titers were compared to time-matched, unvaccinated individuals that were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and presented with mild symptoms (n = 38). Significantly higher neutralizing titers were found in both the mRNA–mRNA (ID50: 2525, IQR: 1667–4313) and vector–mRNA (ID50: 4978, IQR: 3364–7508) prime-boost vaccine regimens when compared to SARS-CoV-2 infection (ID50: 401, IQR: 271–792) (p < 0.0001). However, infection with SARS-CoV-2 induced higher titers when compared to a single dose of Vaxzevria®(p = 0.0072). Between mRNA–mRNA and vector–mRNA prime-boost regimens, the vector–mRNA vaccine regimen induced higher neutralization titers (p = 0.0054). Demographically, both age and time between vaccination doses were associated with vaccine-induced neutralization titers (p = 0.02 and p = 0.03, respectively). This warrants further investigation into the optimal time to administer booster vaccination for optimized induction of neutralizing responses. Although anecdotal (n = 3), those with exposure to SARS-CoV-2, either before or after vaccination, demonstrated superior neutralizing titers, which is suggestive of further boosting through viral exposure.

3.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother ; 65(7): e0009721, 2021 06 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1486469

ABSTRACT

Efforts to mitigate the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic include the screening of existing antiviral molecules that could be repurposed to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections. Although SARS-CoV-2 replicates and propagates efficiently in African green monkey kidney (Vero) cells, antivirals such as nucleos(t)ide analogs (NUCs) often show decreased activity in these cells due to inefficient metabolization. SARS-CoV-2 exhibits low viability in human cells in culture. Here, serial passages of a SARS-CoV-2 isolate (original-SARS2) in the human hepatoma cell clone Huh7.5 led to the selection of a variant (adapted-SARS2) with significantly improved infectivity in human liver (Huh7 and Huh7.5) and lung cancer (unmodified Calu-1 and A549) cells. The adapted virus exhibited mutations in the spike protein, including a 9-amino-acid deletion and 3 amino acid changes (E484D, P812R, and Q954H). E484D also emerged in Vero E6-cultured viruses that became viable in A549 cells. Original and adapted viruses were susceptible to scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SR-B1) receptor blocking, and adapted-SARS2 exhibited significantly less dependence on ACE2. Both variants were similarly neutralized by COVID-19 convalescent-phase plasma, but adapted-SARS2 exhibited increased susceptibility to exogenous type I interferon. Remdesivir inhibited original- and adapted-SARS2 similarly, demonstrating the utility of the system for the screening of NUCs. Among the tested NUCs, only remdesivir, molnupiravir, and, to a limited extent, galidesivir showed antiviral effects across human cell lines, whereas sofosbuvir, ribavirin, and favipiravir had no apparent activity. Analogously to the emergence of spike mutations in vivo, the spike protein is under intense adaptive selection pressure in cell culture. Our results indicate that the emergence of spike mutations will most likely not affect the activity of remdesivir.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Pandemics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Virus Replication
4.
Viruses ; 13(10)2021 10 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1470997

ABSTRACT

We report the in vitro efficacy of ion-channel inhibitors amantadine, memantine and rimantadine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In VeroE6 cells, rimantadine was most potent followed by memantine and amantadine (50% effective concentrations: 36, 80 and 116 µM, respectively). Rimantadine also showed the highest selectivity index, followed by amantadine and memantine (17.3, 12.2 and 7.6, respectively). Similar results were observed in human hepatoma Huh7.5 and lung carcinoma A549-hACE2 cells. Inhibitors interacted in a similar antagonistic manner with remdesivir and had a similar barrier to viral escape. Rimantadine acted mainly at the viral post-entry level and partially at the viral entry level. Based on these results, rimantadine showed the most promise for treatment of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Amantadine/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Memantine/pharmacology , Rimantadine/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , A549 Cells , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Animals , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Denmark , Drug Repositioning , Humans , Ion Channels/antagonists & inhibitors , Vero Cells
5.
EBioMedicine ; 71: 103519, 2021 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1363986

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Given the importance of neutralising antibodies in protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection, it is critical to assess neutralisation persistence long-term following recovery. This study investigated neutralisation titres against SARS-CoV-2 up to 6 months post-symptom onset in individuals with mild COVID-19. METHODS: Plasma neutralisation titres in convalescent COVID-19 individuals were determined at baseline and 6 months post-symptom onset using a cell culture infectious SARS-CoV-2 assay. Total SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific IgG and IgA binding was measured using a lectin capture ELISA and compared between timepoints and correlated to neutralising titres. FINDINGS: All 48 convalescent COVID-19 individuals were found to have detectable SARS-CoV-2 50% inhibitory dilution neutralisation titres (ID50) at baseline and 6 months post-symptom onset with mean ID50 of 1/943 and 1/411, respectively. SARS-CoV-2 neutralisation titres peaked within 1-2 months post-symptom onset. However, 50% of individuals showed comparable ID50 at baseline and 6 months post-symptom onset. Both SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific IgG and IgA levels correlated well with neutralising titres. IgG binding was found to be sustained up to 6 months post-symptom onset, whereas IgA levels declined. INTERPRETATION: This study demonstrates durability of SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific IgG and neutralisation responses following recovery from mild COVID-19. Thus, all subjects included in this study might potentially have protective levels of neutralising antibodies 6 months post-symptom onset. This study also demonstrates a relationship between spike-specific IgA and neutralisation decline, with implications for long-term protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection. FUNDING: Novo Nordisk Foundation, Independent Research Fund Denmark and Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin A/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Male , Middle Aged
6.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother ; 65(9): e0268020, 2021 08 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1360543

ABSTRACT

Antivirals targeting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) could improve treatment of COVID-19. We evaluated the efficacy of clinically relevant hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3 protease inhibitors (PIs) against SARS-CoV-2 and their interactions with remdesivir, the only direct-acting antiviral approved for COVID-19 treatment. HCV PIs showed differential potency in short-term treatment assays based on the detection of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in Vero E6 cells. Linear PIs boceprevir, telaprevir, and narlaprevir had 50% effective concentrations (EC50) of ∼40 µM. Among the macrocyclic PIs, simeprevir had the highest (EC50, 15 µM) and glecaprevir the lowest (EC50, >178 µM) potency, with paritaprevir, grazoprevir, voxilaprevir, vaniprevir, danoprevir, and deldeprevir in between. Acyclic PIs asunaprevir and faldaprevir had EC50s of 72 and 23 µM, respectively. ACH-806, inhibiting the HCV NS4A protease cofactor, had an EC50 of 46 µM. Similar and slightly increased PI potencies were found in human hepatoma Huh7.5 cells and human lung carcinoma A549-hACE2 cells, respectively. Selectivity indexes based on antiviral and cell viability assays were highest for linear PIs. In short-term treatments, combination of macrocyclic but not linear PIs with remdesivir showed synergism in Vero E6 and A549-hACE2 cells. Longer-term treatment of infected Vero E6 and A549-hACE2 cells with 1-fold EC50 PI revealed minor differences in the barrier to SARS-CoV-2 escape. Viral suppression was achieved with 3- to 8-fold EC50 boceprevir or 1-fold EC50 simeprevir or grazoprevir, but not boceprevir, in combination with 0.4- to 0.8-fold EC50 remdesivir; these concentrations did not lead to viral suppression in single treatments. This study could inform the development and application of protease inhibitors for optimized antiviral treatments of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Hepatitis C, Chronic , Hepatitis C , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Chlorocebus aethiops , Hepacivirus , Hepatitis C/drug therapy , Humans , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , Protease Inhibitors/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Vero Cells , Viral Protease Inhibitors
7.
Gut ; 70(9): 1609-1610, 2021 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1346084
8.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 14571, 2021 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1315606

ABSTRACT

Effective and affordable treatments for patients suffering from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), are needed. We report in vitro efficacy of Artemisia annua extracts as well as artemisinin, artesunate, and artemether against SARS-CoV-2. The latter two are approved active pharmaceutical ingredients of anti-malarial drugs. Concentration-response antiviral treatment assays, based on immunostaining of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, revealed that treatment with all studied extracts and compounds inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection of VeroE6 cells, human hepatoma Huh7.5 cells and human lung cancer A549-hACE2 cells, without obvious influence of the cell type on antiviral efficacy. In treatment assays, artesunate proved most potent (range of 50% effective concentrations (EC50) in different cell types: 7-12 µg/mL), followed by artemether (53-98 µg/mL), A. annua extracts (83-260 µg/mL) and artemisinin (151 to at least 208 µg/mL). The selectivity indices (SI), calculated based on treatment and cell viability assays, were mostly below 10 (range 2 to 54), suggesting a small therapeutic window. Time-of-addition experiments in A549-hACE2 cells revealed that artesunate targeted SARS-CoV-2 at the post-entry level. Peak plasma concentrations of artesunate exceeding EC50 values can be achieved. Clinical studies are required to further evaluate the utility of these compounds as COVID-19 treatment.


Subject(s)
Artemisinins/pharmacology , Plant Extracts/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , A549 Cells , Animals , Artemisia annua/chemistry , COVID-19/drug therapy , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Vero Cells
9.
Front Microbiol ; 12: 698944, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305659

ABSTRACT

In addition to humans, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can transmit to animals that include hamsters, cats, dogs, mink, ferrets, tigers, lions, cynomolgus macaques, rhesus macaques, and treeshrew. Among these, mink are particularly susceptible. Indeed, 10 countries in Europe and North America reported SARS-CoV-2 infection among mink on fur farms. In Denmark, SARS-CoV-2 spread rapidly among mink farms and spilled-over back into humans, acquiring mutations/deletions with unknown consequences for virulence and antigenicity. Here we describe a mink-associated SARS-CoV-2 variant (Cluster 5) characterized by 11 amino acid substitutions and four amino acid deletions relative to Wuhan-Hu-1. Temporal virus titration, together with genomic and subgenomic viral RNA quantitation, demonstrated a modest in vitro fitness attenuation of the Cluster 5 virus in the Vero-E6 cell line. Potential alterations in antigenicity conferred by amino acid changes in the spike protein that include three substitutions (Y453F, I692V, and M1229I) and a loss of two amino acid residues 69 and 70 (ΔH69/V70), were evaluated in a virus microneutralization assay. Compared to a reference strain, the Cluster 5 variant showed reduced neutralization in a proportion of convalescent human COVID-19 samples. The findings underscore the need for active surveillance SARS-CoV-2 infection and virus evolution in susceptible animal hosts.

10.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(7)2021 Jun 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1289045

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has demonstrated the value of pursuing different vaccine strategies. Vaccines based on whole viruses, a widely used vaccine technology, depend on efficient virus production. This study aimed to establish SARS-CoV-2 production in the scalable packed-bed CelCradleTM 500-AP bioreactor. CelCradleTM 500-AP bottles with 0.5 L working volume and 5.5 g BioNOC™ II carriers were seeded with 1.5 × 108 Vero (WHO) cells, approved for vaccine production, in animal component-free medium and infected at a multiplicity of infection of 0.006 at a total cell number of 2.2-2.5 × 109 cells/bottle seven days post cell seeding. Among several tested conditions, two harvests per day and a virus production temperature of 33 °C resulted in the highest virus yield with a peak SARS-CoV-2 infectivity titer of 7.3 log10 50% tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50)/mL at 72 h post-infection. Six harvests had titers of ≥6.5 log10 TCID50/mL, and a total of 10.5 log10 TCID50 were produced in ~5 L. While trypsin was reported to enhance virus spread in cell culture, addition of 0.5% recombinant trypsin after infection did not improve virus yields. Overall, we demonstrated successful animal component-free production of SARS-CoV-2 in well-characterized Vero (WHO) cells in a scalable packed-bed bioreactor.

11.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother ; 65(7): e0009721, 2021 06 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1203931

ABSTRACT

Efforts to mitigate the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic include the screening of existing antiviral molecules that could be repurposed to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections. Although SARS-CoV-2 replicates and propagates efficiently in African green monkey kidney (Vero) cells, antivirals such as nucleos(t)ide analogs (NUCs) often show decreased activity in these cells due to inefficient metabolization. SARS-CoV-2 exhibits low viability in human cells in culture. Here, serial passages of a SARS-CoV-2 isolate (original-SARS2) in the human hepatoma cell clone Huh7.5 led to the selection of a variant (adapted-SARS2) with significantly improved infectivity in human liver (Huh7 and Huh7.5) and lung cancer (unmodified Calu-1 and A549) cells. The adapted virus exhibited mutations in the spike protein, including a 9-amino-acid deletion and 3 amino acid changes (E484D, P812R, and Q954H). E484D also emerged in Vero E6-cultured viruses that became viable in A549 cells. Original and adapted viruses were susceptible to scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SR-B1) receptor blocking, and adapted-SARS2 exhibited significantly less dependence on ACE2. Both variants were similarly neutralized by COVID-19 convalescent-phase plasma, but adapted-SARS2 exhibited increased susceptibility to exogenous type I interferon. Remdesivir inhibited original- and adapted-SARS2 similarly, demonstrating the utility of the system for the screening of NUCs. Among the tested NUCs, only remdesivir, molnupiravir, and, to a limited extent, galidesivir showed antiviral effects across human cell lines, whereas sofosbuvir, ribavirin, and favipiravir had no apparent activity. Analogously to the emergence of spike mutations in vivo, the spike protein is under intense adaptive selection pressure in cell culture. Our results indicate that the emergence of spike mutations will most likely not affect the activity of remdesivir.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Pandemics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Virus Replication
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