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1.
mBio ; : e0375121, 2022 Feb 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1741580

ABSTRACT

The widespread coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Currently, we have limited understanding of which cells become infected with SARS-CoV-2 in human tissues and where viral RNA localizes on the subcellular level. Here, we present a platform for preparing autopsy tissue for visualizing SARS-CoV-2 RNA using RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with amplification by hybridization chain reaction. We developed probe sets that target different regions of SARS-CoV-2 (including ORF1a and N), as well as probe sets that specifically target SARS-CoV-2 subgenomic mRNAs. We validated these probe sets in cell culture and tissues (lung, lymph node, and placenta) from infected patients. Using this technology, we observe distinct subcellular localization patterns of the ORF1a and N regions. In human lung tissue, we performed multiplexed RNA FISH HCR for SARS-CoV-2 and cell-type-specific marker genes. We found viral RNA in cells containing the alveolar type 2 (AT2) cell marker gene (SFTPC) and the alveolar macrophage marker gene (MARCO) but did not identify viral RNA in cells containing the alveolar type 1 (AT1) cell marker gene (AGER). Moreover, we observed distinct subcellular localization patterns of viral RNA in AT2 cells and alveolar macrophages. In sum, we demonstrate the use of RNA FISH HCR for visualizing different RNA species from SARS-CoV-2 in cell lines and FFPE (formalin fixation and paraffin embedding) autopsy specimens. We anticipate that this platform could be broadly useful for studying SARS-CoV-2 pathology in tissues, as well as extended for other applications, including investigating the viral life cycle, viral diagnostics, and drug screening. IMPORTANCE Here, we developed an in situ RNA detection assay for RNA generated by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We found viral RNA in lung, lymph node, and placenta samples from pathology specimens from COVID patients. Using high-magnification microscopy, we can visualize the subcellular distribution of these RNA in single cells.

2.
Nature ; 604(7904): 134-140, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1671590

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has infected more than 261 million people and has led to more than 5 million deaths in the past year and a half1 ( https://www.who.org/ ). Individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection typically develop mild-to-severe flu-like symptoms, whereas infection of a subset of individuals leads to severe-to-fatal clinical outcomes2. Although vaccines have been rapidly developed to combat SARS-CoV-2, there has been a dearth of antiviral therapeutics. There is an urgent need for therapeutics, which has been amplified by the emerging threats of variants that may evade vaccines. Large-scale efforts are underway to identify antiviral drugs. Here we screened approximately 18,000 drugs for antiviral activity using live virus infection in human respiratory cells and validated 122 drugs with antiviral activity and selectivity against SARS-CoV-2. Among these candidates are 16 nucleoside analogues, the largest category of clinically used antivirals. This included the antivirals remdesivir and molnupiravir, which have been approved for use in COVID-19. RNA viruses rely on a high supply of nucleoside triphosphates from the host to efficiently replicate, and we identified a panel of host nucleoside biosynthesis inhibitors as antiviral. Moreover, we found that combining pyrimidine biosynthesis inhibitors with antiviral nucleoside analogues synergistically inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro and in vivo against emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2, suggesting a clinical path forward.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Nucleosides , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Humans , Pyrimidines , SARS-CoV-2
3.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(42)2021 10 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1447424

ABSTRACT

The coronaviruses responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV), COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), Middle East respiratory syndrome-CoV, and other coronavirus infections express a nucleocapsid protein (N) that is essential for viral replication, transcription, and virion assembly. Phosphorylation of N from SARS-CoV by glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) is required for its function and inhibition of GSK-3 with lithium impairs N phosphorylation, viral transcription, and replication. Here we report that the SARS-CoV-2 N protein contains GSK-3 consensus sequences and that this motif is conserved in diverse coronaviruses, raising the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 may be sensitive to GSK-3 inhibitors, including lithium. We conducted a retrospective analysis of lithium use in patients from three major health systems who were PCR-tested for SARS-CoV-2. We found that patients taking lithium have a significantly reduced risk of COVID-19 (odds ratio = 0.51 [0.35-0.74], P = 0.005). We also show that the SARS-CoV-2 N protein is phosphorylated by GSK-3. Knockout of GSK3A and GSK3B demonstrates that GSK-3 is essential for N phosphorylation. Alternative GSK-3 inhibitors block N phosphorylation and impair replication in SARS-CoV-2 infected lung epithelial cells in a cell-type-dependent manner. Targeting GSK-3 may therefore provide an approach to treat COVID-19 and future coronavirus outbreaks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3/antagonists & inhibitors , Lithium Compounds/therapeutic use , Adult , Aged , Female , Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Lithium Compounds/pharmacology , Male , Middle Aged , Molecular Targeted Therapy , Phosphoproteins/metabolism , Phosphorylation/drug effects , Retrospective Studies
4.
Clin Chem ; 68(1): 230-239, 2021 12 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1354284

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: High-sensitivity severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antigen assays are desirable to mitigate false negative results. Limited data are available to quantify and track SARS-CoV-2 antigen burden in respiratory samples from different populations. METHODS: We developed the Microbubbling SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Assay (MSAA) with smartphone readout, with a limit of detection of 0.5 pg/mL (10.6 fmol/L) nucleocapsid antigen or 4000 copies/mL inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus in nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs. We developed a computer vision and machine learning-based automatic microbubble image classifier to accurately identify positives and negatives and quantified and tracked antigen dynamics in intensive care unit coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) inpatients and immunocompromised COVID-19 patients. RESULTS: Compared to qualitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction methods, the MSAA demonstrated a positive percentage agreement of 97% (95% CI 92%-99%) and a negative percentage agreement of 97% (95% CI 94%-100%) in a clinical validation study with 372 residual clinical NP swabs. In immunocompetent individuals, the antigen positivity rate in swabs decreased as days-after-symptom-onset increased, despite persistent nucleic acid positivity. Antigen was detected for longer and variable periods of time in immunocompromised patients with hematologic malignancies. Total microbubble volume, a quantitative marker of antigen burden, correlated inversely with cycle threshold values and days-after-symptom-onset. Viral sequence variations were detected in patients with long duration of high antigen burden. CONCLUSIONS: The MSAA enables sensitive and specific detection of acute infections and quantification and tracking of antigen burden and may serve as a screening method in longitudinal studies to identify patients who are likely experiencing active rounds of ongoing replication and warrant close viral sequence monitoring.


Subject(s)
Antigens, Viral/analysis , COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19 , Smartphone , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Machine Learning , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity
5.
PLoS One ; 16(6): e0253089, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1282298

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a devastating global pandemic, infecting over 43 million people and claiming over 1 million lives, with these numbers increasing daily. Therefore, there is urgent need to understand the molecular mechanisms governing SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, immune evasion, and disease progression. Here, we show that SARS-CoV-2 can block IRF3 and NF-κB activation early during virus infection. We also identify that the SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins NSP1 and NSP13 can block interferon activation via distinct mechanisms. NSP1 antagonizes interferon signaling by suppressing host mRNA translation, while NSP13 downregulates interferon and NF-κB promoter signaling by limiting TBK1 and IRF3 activation, as phospho-TBK1 and phospho-IRF3 protein levels are reduced with increasing levels of NSP13 protein expression. NSP13 can also reduce NF-κB activation by both limiting NF-κB phosphorylation and nuclear translocation. Last, we also show that NSP13 binds to TBK1 and downregulates IFIT1 protein expression. Collectively, these data illustrate that SARS-CoV-2 bypasses multiple innate immune activation pathways through distinct mechanisms.


Subject(s)
Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Cell Nucleus/immunology , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/immunology , RNA-Binding Proteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Signal Transduction/immunology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/immunology , Active Transport, Cell Nucleus/genetics , Active Transport, Cell Nucleus/immunology , Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing/genetics , COVID-19/genetics , Cell Nucleus/genetics , HeLa Cells , Humans , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/genetics , NF-kappa B/genetics , NF-kappa B/immunology , Phosphorylation/genetics , Phosphorylation/immunology , /immunology , RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Signal Transduction/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics
6.
J Infect Dis ; 224(Supplement_1): S1-S21, 2021 Jul 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1263668

ABSTRACT

The NIH Virtual SARS-CoV-2 Antiviral Summit, held on 6 November 2020, was organized to provide an overview on the status and challenges in developing antiviral therapeutics for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including combinations of antivirals. Scientific experts from the public and private sectors convened virtually during a live videocast to discuss severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) targets for drug discovery as well as the preclinical tools needed to develop and evaluate effective small-molecule antivirals. The goals of the Summit were to review the current state of the science, identify unmet research needs, share insights and lessons learned from treating other infectious diseases, identify opportunities for public-private partnerships, and assist the research community in designing and developing antiviral therapeutics. This report includes an overview of therapeutic approaches, individual panel summaries, and a summary of the discussions and perspectives on the challenges ahead for antiviral development.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/virology , Drug Development , Humans , National Institutes of Health (U.S.) , Peptide Hydrolases/metabolism , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , Protease Inhibitors/therapeutic use , United States , Virus Replication/drug effects
7.
Mol Cell ; 81(11): 2261-2265, 2021 06 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1246090

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 altered our lives and pushed scientific research to operate at breakneck speed, leading to significant breakthroughs in record time. We asked experts in the field about the challenges they faced in transitioning, rapidly but safely, to working on the virus while navigating the shutdown. Their voices converge on the importance of teamwork, forging new collaborations, and working toward a shared goal.


Subject(s)
Biomedical Research , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Pandemics , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Poetry as Topic
8.
Sci Immunol ; 6(59)2021 05 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1234281

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a global pandemic, resulting millions of infections and deaths with few effective interventions available. Here, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 evades interferon (IFN) activation in respiratory epithelial cells, resulting in a delayed response in bystander cells. Since pretreatment with IFNs can block viral infection, we reasoned that pharmacological activation of innate immune pathways could control SARS-CoV-2 infection. To identify potent antiviral innate immune agonists, we screened a panel of 75 microbial ligands that activate diverse signaling pathways and identified cyclic dinucleotides (CDNs), canonical STING agonists, as antiviral. Since CDNs have poor bioavailability, we tested the small molecule STING agonist diABZI, and found that it potently inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection of diverse strains including variants of concern (B.1.351) by transiently stimulating IFN signaling. Importantly, diABZI restricts viral replication in primary human bronchial epithelial cells and in mice in vivo. Our study provides evidence that activation of STING may represent a promising therapeutic strategy to control SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Benzimidazoles/pharmacology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Interferons/immunology , Membrane Proteins/agonists , Animals , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Enzyme Activation/drug effects , Epithelial Cells/virology , Humans , Immune Evasion/immunology , Immunity, Innate/drug effects , Immunity, Innate/immunology , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects
9.
J Med Chem ; 65(4): 2848-2865, 2022 02 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1199254

ABSTRACT

The main protease (Mpro) of SARS-CoV-2 is a validated antiviral drug target. Several Mpro inhibitors have been reported with potent enzymatic inhibition and cellular antiviral activity, including GC376, boceprevir, calpain inhibitors II, and XII, with each containing a reactive warhead that covalently modifies the catalytic Cys145. Coupling structure-based drug design with the one-pot Ugi four-component reaction, we discovered one of the most potent noncovalent inhibitors, 23R (Jun8-76-3A) that is structurally distinct from the canonical Mpro inhibitor GC376. Significantly, 23R is highly selective compared with covalent inhibitors such as GC376, especially toward host proteases. The cocrystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro with 23R revealed a previously unexplored binding site located in between the S2 and S4 pockets. Overall, this study discovered 23R, one of the most potent and selective noncovalent SARS-CoV-2 Mpro inhibitors reported to date, and a novel binding pocket in Mpro that can be explored for inhibitor design.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , Drug Design , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemical synthesis , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/isolation & purification , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/chemical synthesis , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/chemistry , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Humans , Microbial Sensitivity Tests , Models, Molecular , Molecular Structure , Proline/analogs & derivatives , Proline/chemical synthesis , Proline/chemistry , Proline/pharmacology , Pyrrolidines/chemical synthesis , Pyrrolidines/chemistry , Pyrrolidines/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Sulfonic Acids/chemical synthesis , Sulfonic Acids/chemistry , Sulfonic Acids/pharmacology , Vero Cells
10.
PLoS One ; 16(4): e0250019, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1197380

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 has caused a global pandemic, and has taken over 1.7 million lives as of mid-December, 2020. Although great progress has been made in the development of effective countermeasures, with several pharmaceutical companies approved or poised to deliver vaccines to market, there is still an unmet need of essential antiviral drugs with therapeutic impact for the treatment of moderate-to-severe COVID-19. Towards this goal, a high-throughput assay was used to screen SARS-CoV-2 nsp15 uracil-dependent endonuclease (endoU) function against 13 thousand compounds from drug and lead repurposing compound libraries. While over 80% of initial hit compounds were pan-assay inhibitory compounds, three hits were confirmed as nsp15 endoU inhibitors in the 1-20 µM range in vitro. Furthermore, Exebryl-1, a ß-amyloid anti-aggregation molecule for Alzheimer's therapy, was shown to have antiviral activity between 10 to 66 µM, in Vero 76, Caco-2, and Calu-3 cells. Although the inhibitory concentrations determined for Exebryl-1 exceed those recommended for therapeutic intervention, our findings show great promise for further optimization of Exebryl-1 as an nsp15 endoU inhibitor and as a SARS-CoV-2 antiviral.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Drug Repositioning , Endoribonucleases/antagonists & inhibitors , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Small Molecule Libraries/pharmacology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , COVID-19/virology , Caco-2 Cells , Chlorocebus aethiops , Drug Repositioning/methods , Endoribonucleases/metabolism , High-Throughput Screening Assays/methods , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Vero Cells , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism
11.
Cell Rep ; 35(1): 108959, 2021 04 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1163484

ABSTRACT

There is an urgent need for antivirals to treat the newly emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). To identify new candidates, we screen a repurposing library of ∼3,000 drugs. Screening in Vero cells finds few antivirals, while screening in human Huh7.5 cells validates 23 diverse antiviral drugs. Extending our studies to lung epithelial cells, we find that there are major differences in drug sensitivity and entry pathways used by SARS-CoV-2 in these cells. Entry in lung epithelial Calu-3 cells is pH independent and requires TMPRSS2, while entry in Vero and Huh7.5 cells requires low pH and triggering by acid-dependent endosomal proteases. Moreover, we find nine drugs are antiviral in respiratory cells, seven of which have been used in humans, and three are US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, including cyclosporine. We find that the antiviral activity of cyclosporine is targeting Cyclophilin rather than calcineurin, revealing essential host targets that have the potential for rapid clinical implementation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , Cyclosporine/pharmacology , Drug Repositioning , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Lung/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epithelial Cells/pathology , Epithelial Cells/virology , Humans , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , United States , United States Food and Drug Administration , Vero Cells
12.
Cell ; 184(7): 1858-1864.e10, 2021 04 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1071140

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has rapidly spread within the human population. Although SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus, most humans had been previously exposed to other antigenically distinct common seasonal human coronaviruses (hCoVs) before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Here, we quantified levels of SARS-CoV-2-reactive antibodies and hCoV-reactive antibodies in serum samples collected from 431 humans before the COVID-19 pandemic. We then quantified pre-pandemic antibody levels in serum from a separate cohort of 251 individuals who became PCR-confirmed infected with SARS-CoV-2. Finally, we longitudinally measured hCoV and SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the serum of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Our studies indicate that most individuals possessed hCoV-reactive antibodies before the COVID-19 pandemic. We determined that ∼20% of these individuals possessed non-neutralizing antibodies that cross-reacted with SARS-CoV-2 spike and nucleocapsid proteins. These antibodies were not associated with protection against SARS-CoV-2 infections or hospitalizations, but they were boosted upon SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Alphacoronavirus/immunology , Antibodies, Viral , Betacoronavirus/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Child , Child, Preschool , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cross Protection , Cross Reactions , Disease Susceptibility , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Vero Cells
13.
Science ; 369(6508)2020 09 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-981641

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is currently a global pandemic, but human immune responses to the virus remain poorly understood. We used high-dimensional cytometry to analyze 125 COVID-19 patients and compare them with recovered and healthy individuals. Integrated analysis of ~200 immune and ~50 clinical features revealed activation of T cell and B cell subsets in a proportion of patients. A subgroup of patients had T cell activation characteristic of acute viral infection and plasmablast responses reaching >30% of circulating B cells. However, another subgroup had lymphocyte activation comparable with that in uninfected individuals. Stable versus dynamic immunological signatures were identified and linked to trajectories of disease severity change. Our analyses identified three immunotypes associated with poor clinical trajectories versus improving health. These immunotypes may have implications for the design of therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19.


Subject(s)
B-Lymphocytes/immunology , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Adaptive Immunity , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Viral/blood , B-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19 , Cytokines/blood , Female , Humans , Immunologic Memory , Lymphocyte Activation , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Plasma Cells/immunology , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index , T-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology , T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer/immunology , Time Factors , Young Adult
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