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1.
J Virol ; 96(11): e0036422, 2022 Jun 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1854234

ABSTRACT

Effective broad-spectrum antivirals are critical to prevent and control emerging human coronavirus (hCoV) infections. Despite considerable progress made toward identifying and evaluating several synthetic broad-spectrum antivirals against hCoV infections, a narrow therapeutic window has limited their success. Enhancing the endogenous interferon (IFN) and IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) response is another antiviral strategy that has been known for decades. However, the side effects of pegylated type-I IFNs (IFN-Is) and the proinflammatory response detected after delayed IFN-I therapy have discouraged their clinical use. In contrast to IFN-Is, IFN-λ, a dominant IFN at the epithelial surface, has been shown to be less proinflammatory. Consequently, we evaluated the prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy of IFN-λ in hCoV-infected airway epithelial cells and mice. Human primary airway epithelial cells treated with a single dose of IFN-I (IFN-α) and IFN-λ showed similar ISG expression, whereas cells treated with two doses of IFN-λ expressed elevated levels of ISG compared to that of IFN-α-treated cells. Similarly, mice treated with two doses of IFN-λ were better protected than mice that received a single dose, and a combination of prophylactic and delayed therapeutic regimens completely protected mice from a lethal Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV) infection. A two-dose IFN-λ regimen significantly reduced lung viral titers and inflammatory cytokine levels with marked improvement in lung inflammation. Collectively, we identified an effective regimen for IFN-λ use and demonstrated the protective efficacy of IFN-λ in MERS-CoV-infected mice. IMPORTANCE Effective antiviral agents are urgently required to prevent and treat individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging viral infections. The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted our efforts to identify, develop, and evaluate several antiviral agents. However, a narrow therapeutic window has limited the protective efficacy of several broad-spectrum and CoV-specific antivirals. IFN-λ is an antiviral agent of interest due to its ability to induce a robust endogenous antiviral state and low levels of inflammation. Here, we evaluated the protective efficacy and effective treatment regimen of IFN-λ in mice infected with a lethal dose of MERS-CoV. We show that while prophylactic and early therapeutic IFN-λ administration is protective, delayed treatment is detrimental. Notably, a combination of prophylactic and delayed therapeutic administration of IFN-λ protected mice from severe MERS. Our results highlight the prophylactic and therapeutic use of IFN-λ against lethal hCoV and likely other viral lung infections.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents , Coronavirus Infections , Interferons , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Humans , Interferons/pharmacology , Mice
2.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335222

ABSTRACT

Variant of concern (VOC) Omicron-BA1 has achieved global predominance in early 2022. Therefore, surveillance and comprehensive characterization of Omicron-BA.1 in advanced primary cell culture systems and multiple animal models is urgently needed. Here, we characterized Omicron-BA.1 and recombinant Omicron-BA.1 spike gene mutants in comparison with VOC Delta in well-differentiated primary human nasal and bronchial epithelial cells in vitro, followed by in vivo fitness characterization in naïve hamsters, ferrets and hACE2-expressing mice, and in immunized hACE2-mice. We demonstrate a spike-mediated enhancement of early replication of Omicron-BA.1 in nasal epithelial cultures, but limited replication in bronchial epithelial cultures. In Syrian hamsters, Delta showed dominance over Omicron-BA.1 and in ferrets, Omicron-BA.1 infection was abortive. In mice expressing the authentic hACE2-receptor, Delta and a Delta spike clone also showed dominance over Omicron-BA.1 and an Omicron-BA.1 spike clone, respectively. Interestingly, in naïve K18-hACE2 mice, we observed Delta spike-mediated increased replication and pathogenicity and Omicron-BA.1 spike-mediated reduced replication and pathogenicity, suggesting that the spike gene is a major determinant of both Delta and Omicron-BA.1 replication and pathogenicity. Finally, the Omicron-BA.1 spike clone was less well controlled by mRNA-vaccination in K18-hACE2-mice and became more competitive compared to the progenitor and Delta spike clones, suggesting that spike gene-mediated immune evasion is another important factor that led to Omicron-BA.1 dominance.

3.
Ther Adv Neurol Disord ; 15: 17562864221080528, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1799140

ABSTRACT

Background: In coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients, there is increasing evidence of neuronal injury by the means of elevated serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels. However, the role of systemic inflammation and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific immune response with regard to neuronal injury has not yet been investigated. Methods: In a prospective cohort study, we recruited patients with mild-moderate (n = 39) and severe (n = 14) COVID-19 and measured sNfL levels, cytokine concentrations, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies including neutralizing antibody titers, and cell-mediated immune responses at enrollment and at 28(±7) days. We explored the association of neuro-axonal injury as by the means of sNfL measurements with disease severity, cytokine levels, and virus-specific immune responses. Results: sNfL levels, as an indicator for neuronal injury, were higher at enrollment and increased during follow-up in severely ill patients, whereas during mild-moderate COVID-19, sNfL levels remained unchanged. Severe COVID-19 was associated with increased concentrations of cytokines assessed [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1ß), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)], higher anti-spike IgG and anti-nucleocapsid IgG concentrations, and increased neutralizing antibody titers compared with mild-moderate disease. Patients with more severe disease had higher counts of defined SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. Increases in sNfL concentrations from baseline to day 28(±7) positively correlated with anti-spike protein IgG antibody levels and with titers of neutralizing antibodies. Conclusion: Severe COVID-19 is associated with increased serum concentration of cytokines and subsequent neuronal injury as reflected by increased levels of sNfL. Patients with more severe disease developed higher neutralizing antibody titers and higher counts of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells during the course of COVID-19 disease. Mounting a pronounced virus-specific humoral and cell-mediated immune response upon SARS-CoV-2 infection did not protect from neuro-axonal damage as by the means of sNfL levels.

4.
Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders ; 15, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1743793

ABSTRACT

Background: In coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients, there is increasing evidence of neuronal injury by the means of elevated serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels. However, the role of systemic inflammation and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)–specific immune response with regard to neuronal injury has not yet been investigated. Methods: In a prospective cohort study, we recruited patients with mild–moderate (n = 39) and severe (n = 14) COVID-19 and measured sNfL levels, cytokine concentrations, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies including neutralizing antibody titers, and cell-mediated immune responses at enrollment and at 28(±7) days. We explored the association of neuro-axonal injury as by the means of sNfL measurements with disease severity, cytokine levels, and virus-specific immune responses. Results: sNfL levels, as an indicator for neuronal injury, were higher at enrollment and increased during follow-up in severely ill patients, whereas during mild–moderate COVID-19, sNfL levels remained unchanged. Severe COVID-19 was associated with increased concentrations of cytokines assessed [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)], higher anti-spike IgG and anti-nucleocapsid IgG concentrations, and increased neutralizing antibody titers compared with mild–moderate disease. Patients with more severe disease had higher counts of defined SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. Increases in sNfL concentrations from baseline to day 28(±7) positively correlated with anti-spike protein IgG antibody levels and with titers of neutralizing antibodies. Conclusion: Severe COVID-19 is associated with increased serum concentration of cytokines and subsequent neuronal injury as reflected by increased levels of sNfL. Patients with more severe disease developed higher neutralizing antibody titers and higher counts of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells during the course of COVID-19 disease. Mounting a pronounced virus-specific humoral and cell-mediated immune response upon SARS-CoV-2 infection did not protect from neuro-axonal damage as by the means of sNfL levels.

5.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-320953

ABSTRACT

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) can cause severe pneumonia in humans. The virus is enzootic in dromedary camels across the Middle East and Africa. It is acquired through animal contact and undergoes limited onward transmission particularly in hospitals. Because of this initial potential for human-to-human transmission, we monitor the virus for phenotypic changes related to its pandemic potential. Potential phenotypic changes have been suspected since the year 2015, when a novel recombinant clade (MERS-CoV lineage 5) caused large nosocomial outbreaks in Saudi Arabia and South Korea that effectively swept other, hitherto co-circulating viral lineages. To this day, lineage 5 remains the only circulating MERS-CoV lineage on the Arabian Peninsula. In spite of available sequence data, no studies of viral phenotype have been carried out to date. Here we performed a comprehensive in-vitro and ex-vivo comparison of live virus isolates taken in Saudi Arabia immediately before and after the shift toward lineage 5. We characterized seven isolates representing the recombination-parental lineage 3, eight isolates representing parental lineage 4, as well as eight isolates representing lineage 5. Replication of lineage 5 viruses is significantly increased over isolates from parental lineages in cell culture and ex-vivo lung models. Transcriptional profiling by real-time RT-PCR shows that several key immune genes (IFNb1, CCL5, IFNL1) are significantly less induced in lung cells infected with lineage 5 MERS-CoV compared to parental strains. In IFN receptor knock out cells, as well as under chemical inhibition of IFN signalling, the differences in replication level between lineage 5 and parental lineages are reduced, suggesting that phenotypic differences may be determined by IFN antagonism. Concordantly, lineage 5 shows increased resilience against interferon (IFN) pre-treatment of Calu-3 cells and maintains a 10-fold higher replication level under low and high concentrations of IFN. Reduced immune activation combined with enhanced virus replication and IFN resilience may explain the dominance of lineage 5 on the Arabian Peninsula. This phenotypic difference is highly relevant with regard to pandemic potential, and has remained undiscovered in spite of viral sequence surveillance.

6.
PLoS Biol ; 19(12): e3001490, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1595018

ABSTRACT

Over the past 20 years, 3 highly pathogenic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) have emerged-Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and, most recently, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-demonstrating that coronaviruses (CoVs) pose a serious threat to human health and highlighting the importance of developing effective therapies against them. Similar to other viruses, CoVs are dependent on host factors for their survival and replication. We hypothesized that evolutionarily distinct CoVs may exploit similar host factors and pathways to support their replication cycles. Herein, we conducted 2 independent genome-wide CRISPR/Cas-9 knockout (KO) screens to identify MERS-CoV and HCoV-229E host dependency factors (HDFs) required for HCoV replication in the human Huh7 cell line. Top scoring genes were further validated and assessed in the context of MERS-CoV and HCoV-229E infection as well as SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infection. Strikingly, we found that several autophagy-related genes, including TMEM41B, MINAR1, and the immunophilin FKBP8, were common host factors required for pan-CoV replication. Importantly, inhibition of the immunophilin protein family with the compounds cyclosporine A, and the nonimmunosuppressive derivative alisporivir, resulted in dose-dependent inhibition of CoV replication in primary human nasal epithelial cell cultures, which recapitulate the natural site of virus replication. Overall, we identified host factors that are crucial for CoV replication and demonstrated that these factors constitute potential targets for therapeutic intervention by clinically approved drugs.


Subject(s)
Autophagy/genetics , CRISPR-Cas Systems , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Gene Knockdown Techniques , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/drug effects , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication
7.
Nature ; 602(7896): 307-313, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585832

ABSTRACT

Emerging variants of concern (VOCs) are driving the COVID-19 pandemic1,2. Experimental assessments of replication and transmission of major VOCs and progenitors are needed to understand the mechanisms of replication and transmission of VOCs3. Here we show that the spike protein (S) from Alpha (also known as B.1.1.7) and Beta (B.1.351) VOCs had a greater affinity towards the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor than that of the progenitor variant S(D614G) in vitro. Progenitor variant virus expressing S(D614G) (wt-S614G) and the Alpha variant showed similar replication kinetics in human nasal airway epithelial cultures, whereas the Beta variant was outcompeted by both. In vivo, competition experiments showed a clear fitness advantage of Alpha over wt-S614G in ferrets and two mouse models-the substitutions in S were major drivers of the fitness advantage. In hamsters, which support high viral replication levels, Alpha and wt-S614G showed similar fitness. By contrast, Beta was outcompeted by Alpha and wt-S614G in hamsters and in mice expressing human ACE2. Our study highlights the importance of using multiple models to characterize fitness of VOCs and demonstrates that Alpha is adapted for replication in the upper respiratory tract and shows enhanced transmission in vivo in restrictive models, whereas Beta does not overcome Alpha or wt-S614G in naive animals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Animals, Laboratory/virology , COVID-19/veterinary , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Male , Mesocricetus/virology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virulence/genetics
8.
Open Forum Infect Dis ; 8(12): ofab524, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1566042

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Protests and police fieldwork provide a high-exposure environment for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections. In this cross-sectional analysis, we investigated the seroprevalence among a police cohort, and sociodemographic, work, and health-related factors associated with seropositivity. METHODS: Study participants were invited for serological testing of SARS-CoV-2 and to complete online questionnaires. Serum neutralization titers toward the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (expressing D614G) and the Alpha and Beta variants were measured in seropositive study participants. RESULTS: A total of 978 police personnel representing 35% of the entire staff participated from February to March 2021. The seroprevalence was 12.9%. It varied by geographic region, ranged from 9% to 13.5% in 3 regions, including the city; and was 22% in Bernese Seeland/Jura with higher odds for seropositivity (odds ratio [OR], 2.38 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.28-4.44], P=.006). Job roles with mainly office activity were associated with a lower risk of seropositivity (OR, 0.33 [95% CI, .14-.77], P=.010). Self-reported compliance with mask wearing during working hours was 100%; 45% of seropositive vs 5% of seronegative participants (P<.001) reported having had contact with a proven coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case living in the same household prior to serological testing. The level of serum antibody titers correlated with neutralization capacity. Antibodies derived from natural SARS-CoV-2 infection effectively neutralized the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, but were less effective against the Alpha and Beta variants. CONCLUSIONS: The seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies of police officers was comparable to that reported in the general population, suggesting that the personal protective equipment of the police is effective, and that household contacts are the leading transmission venues. The level of serum antibody titers, in particular that of anti-spike antibodies, correlated well with neutralization capacity. Low antibody titers acquired from natural infection were not effective against variants. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT04643444.

9.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 27(7): 1811-1820, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1278358

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread globally, and the number of worldwide cases continues to rise. The zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2 and its intermediate and potential spillback host reservoirs, besides humans, remain largely unknown. Because of ethical and experimental constraints and more important, to reduce and refine animal experimentation, we used our repository of well-differentiated airway epithelial cell (AEC) cultures from various domesticated and wildlife animal species to assess their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. We observed that SARS-CoV-2 replicated efficiently only in monkey and cat AEC culture models. Whole-genome sequencing of progeny viruses revealed no obvious signs of nucleotide transitions required for SARS-CoV-2 to productively infect monkey and cat AEC cultures. Our findings, together with previous reports of human-to-animal spillover events, warrant close surveillance to determine the potential role of cats, monkeys, and closely related species as spillback reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Animals, Wild , COVID-19 , Animals , Epithelial Cells , Humans , Respiratory System , SARS-CoV-2
10.
J Clin Virol Plus ; 1(1): 100020, 2021 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1225282

ABSTRACT

Background: The most sensitive method to detect SARS-CoV-2 relies on rRT-PCR; however, viral RNA can be detected weeks/months after clinical resolution. Since rRT-PCR cannot discern between non- and infectious virus, it is unclear whether the presence of viral RNA after recovery reflects infectious SARS-CoV-2. However, recent studies suggest a positive correlation between antigen rapid tests (Ag-RDT) and virus isolation that is more suited to assess contagiousness. Objectives: To assess the utility of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests in different settings we evaluated the performance of Ag-RDT-based and a cell culture-based SARS-CoV-2 assay in comparison to rRT-PCR. Study design: A total of 61 Nasopharyngeal-Swabs tested positive by cobasⓇ SARS-CoV-2 rRT-PCR were in parallel evaluated with the Roche Ag-RDT and a cell culture-based assay to detect SARS-CoV-2. Results: SARS-CoV-2 was successfully isolated in 51/61 samples corresponding to 83.6%, which was 97.3% or 96.2% when considering samples with E-gene Ct-value <25 and <28, respectively. In comparison, the Ag-RDT showed an overall sensitivity of 85.2%, that increased to 100% and 96.2% using an E-gene Ct-value cut-off of <25 and <28, respectively. There was an overall good agreement between the commercial Ag-RDT and our in-house cell culture-based SARS-CoV-2 detection assay. However, SARS-CoV-2 could be isolated from two samples that tested negative by Ag-RDT. Conclusions: Our results support the use of the Roche Ag-RDT to detect SARS-CoV-2 exposure in large scale populations. However, it is recommended to use rRT-PCR, potentially in conjunction with cell culture-based SARS-CoV-2 assay, to support clinicians in making decisions regarding fragile patient groups.

11.
J Med Chem ; 64(9): 5632-5644, 2021 05 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1193564

ABSTRACT

To develop antiviral therapeutics against human coronavirus (HCoV) infections, suitable coronavirus drug targets and corresponding lead molecules must be urgently identified. Here, we describe the discovery of a class of HCoV inhibitors acting on nsp15, a hexameric protein component of the viral replication-transcription complexes, endowed with immune evasion-associated endoribonuclease activity. Structure-activity relationship exploration of these 1,2,3-triazolo-fused betulonic acid derivatives yielded lead molecule 5h as a strong inhibitor (antiviral EC50: 0.6 µM) of HCoV-229E replication. An nsp15 endoribonuclease active site mutant virus was markedly less sensitive to 5h, and selected resistance to the compound mapped to mutations in the N-terminal part of HCoV-229E nsp15, at an interface between two nsp15 monomers. The biological findings were substantiated by the nsp15 binding mode for 5h, predicted by docking. Hence, besides delivering a distinct class of inhibitors, our study revealed a druggable pocket in the nsp15 hexamer with relevance for anti-coronavirus drug development.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus 229E, Human/drug effects , Coronavirus 229E, Human/enzymology , Endoribonucleases/antagonists & inhibitors , Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology , Oleanolic Acid/analogs & derivatives , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Virus Replication/drug effects , Antiviral Agents/chemical synthesis , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Cell Line , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Endoribonucleases/metabolism , Enzyme Inhibitors/chemical synthesis , Enzyme Inhibitors/chemistry , Humans , Microbial Sensitivity Tests , Models, Molecular , Oleanolic Acid/chemical synthesis , Oleanolic Acid/chemistry , Oleanolic Acid/pharmacology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism
12.
PLoS Biol ; 19(3): e3001158, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1156073

ABSTRACT

Since its emergence in December 2019, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread globally and become a major public health burden. Despite its close phylogenetic relationship to SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 exhibits increased human-to-human transmission dynamics, likely due to efficient early replication in the upper respiratory epithelium of infected individuals. Since different temperatures encountered in the human upper and lower respiratory tract (33°C and 37°C, respectively) have been shown to affect the replication kinetics of several respiratory viruses, as well as host innate immune response dynamics, we investigated the impact of temperature on SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection using the primary human airway epithelial cell culture model. SARS-CoV-2, in contrast to SARS-CoV, replicated to higher titers when infections were performed at 33°C rather than 37°C. Although both viruses were highly sensitive to type I and type III interferon pretreatment, a detailed time-resolved transcriptome analysis revealed temperature-dependent interferon and pro-inflammatory responses induced by SARS-CoV-2 that were inversely proportional to its replication efficiency at 33°C or 37°C. These data provide crucial insight on pivotal virus-host interaction dynamics and are in line with characteristic clinical features of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV, as well as their respective transmission efficiencies.


Subject(s)
Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral/genetics , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cells, Cultured , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epithelial Cells/drug effects , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Epithelial Cells/virology , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral/drug effects , Host-Pathogen Interactions/drug effects , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , Interferons/pharmacology , SARS Virus/drug effects , SARS Virus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Species Specificity , Temperature , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects , Virus Replication/genetics
13.
Nature ; 592(7852): 122-127, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1104508

ABSTRACT

During the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in humans, a D614G substitution in the spike glycoprotein (S) has emerged; virus containing this substitution has become the predominant circulating variant in the COVID-19 pandemic1. However, whether the increasing prevalence of this variant reflects a fitness advantage that improves replication and/or transmission in humans or is merely due to founder effects remains unknown. Here we use isogenic SARS-CoV-2 variants to demonstrate that the variant that contains S(D614G) has enhanced binding to the human cell-surface receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), increased replication in primary human bronchial and nasal airway epithelial cultures as well as in a human ACE2 knock-in mouse model, and markedly increased replication and transmissibility in hamster and ferret models of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data show that the D614G substitution in S results in subtle increases in binding and replication in vitro, and provides a real competitive advantage in vivo-particularly during the transmission bottleneck. Our data therefore provide an explanation for the global predominance of the variant that contains S(D614G) among the SARS-CoV-2 viruses that are currently circulating.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Virus Replication/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Bronchi/cytology , Bronchi/virology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cell Line , Cells, Cultured , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Ferrets/virology , Founder Effect , Gene Knock-In Techniques , Genetic Fitness , Humans , Male , Mesocricetus , Mice , Nasal Mucosa/cytology , Nasal Mucosa/virology , Protein Binding , RNA, Viral/analysis , Receptors, Coronavirus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
14.
Viruses ; 12(12)2020 12 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-967147

ABSTRACT

The International Virus Bioinformatics Meeting 2020 was originally planned to take place in Bern, Switzerland, in March 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a spoke in the wheel of almost all conferences to be held in 2020. After moving the conference to 8-9 October 2020, we got hit by the second wave and finally decided at short notice to go fully online. On the other hand, the pandemic has made us even more aware of the importance of accelerating research in viral bioinformatics. Advances in bioinformatics have led to improved approaches to investigate viral infections and outbreaks. The International Virus Bioinformatics Meeting 2020 has attracted approximately 120 experts in virology and bioinformatics from all over the world to join the two-day virtual meeting. Despite concerns being raised that virtual meetings lack possibilities for face-to-face discussion, the participants from this small community created a highly interactive scientific environment, engaging in lively and inspiring discussions and suggesting new research directions and questions. The meeting featured five invited and twelve contributed talks, on the four main topics: (1) proteome and RNAome of RNA viruses, (2) viral metagenomics and ecology, (3) virus evolution and classification and (4) viral infections and immunology. Further, the meeting featured 20 oral poster presentations, all of which focused on specific areas of virus bioinformatics. This report summarizes the main research findings and highlights presented at the meeting.


Subject(s)
Computational Biology , RNA Viruses/genetics , Virology , COVID-19 , Congresses as Topic , Evolution, Molecular , Genome, Viral , Humans , Metagenomics , RNA Viruses/pathogenicity
15.
Microorganisms ; 8(12)2020 Nov 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-945877

ABSTRACT

With over 50 million currently confirmed cases worldwide, including more than 1.3 million deaths, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has a major impact on the economy and health care system. Currently, limited prophylactic or therapeutic intervention options are available against SARS-CoV-2. In this study, 400 compounds from the antimicrobial "pandemic response box" library were screened for inhibiting properties against SARS-CoV-2. An initial screen on Vero E6 cells identified five compounds that inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication. However, validation of the selected hits in a human lung cell line highlighted that only a single compound, namely Retro-2.1, efficiently inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication. Additional analysis revealed that the antiviral activity of Retro-2.1 occurs at a post-entry stage of the viral replication cycle. Combined, these data demonstrate that stringent in vitro screening of preselected compounds in multiple cell lines refines the rapid identification of new potential antiviral candidate drugs targeting SARS-CoV-2.

16.
Processes ; 8(12):1539, 2020.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-945907

ABSTRACT

The spike protein of the pandemic human Corona virus is essential for virus entry into human cells. In fact, most neutralizing antibodies against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are directed against the Virus-surface exposed spike protein, making it the antigen of choice for use in vaccines and diagnostic tests. In the current pandemic context, global demand for spike proteins has rapidly increased and could exceed hundreds of grams to kilograms annually. Coronavirus spikes are large heavily glycosylated homo-trimeric complexes, with inherent instability. The poor manufacturability now threatens the availability of these proteins for vaccines and diagnostic tests. Here, we outline scalable, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant, and chemically defined processes for the production of two cell-secreted stabilized forms of the trimeric spike proteins (Wuhan and D614G variant). The processes are chemically defined and based on clonal suspension-CHO cell populations and on protein purification via a two-step scalable downstream process. The trimeric conformation was confirmed using electron microscopy and HPLC analysis. Binding to susceptible cells was shown using a virus-inhibition assay. The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity for detection of serum SARS-CoV-2-specific-immunoglobulin molecules was found to exceed that of spike fragments (Spike fragment-1, S1 and Receptor Binding Domain, RBD). The process described here will enable production of sufficient high-quality trimeric spike protein to meet the global demand for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests and potentially vaccines.

17.
bioRxiv ; 2020 Oct 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-915978

ABSTRACT

During the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in humans a D614G substitution in the spike (S) protein emerged and became the predominant circulating variant (S-614G) of the COVID-19 pandemic 1 . However, whether the increasing prevalence of the S-614G variant represents a fitness advantage that improves replication and/or transmission in humans or is merely due to founder effects remains elusive. Here, we generated isogenic SARS-CoV-2 variants and demonstrate that the S-614G variant has (i) enhanced binding to human ACE2, (ii) increased replication in primary human bronchial and nasal airway epithelial cultures as well as in a novel human ACE2 knock-in mouse model, and (iii) markedly increased replication and transmissibility in hamster and ferret models of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Collectively, our data show that while the S-614G substitution results in subtle increases in binding and replication in vitro , it provides a real competitive advantage in vivo , particularly during the transmission bottle neck, providing an explanation for the global predominance of S-614G variant among the SARS-CoV-2 viruses currently circulating.

18.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 26(7): 1592-1595, 2020 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-712728

ABSTRACT

Infection control instructions call for use of alcohol-based hand rub solutions to inactivate severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. We determined the virucidal activity of World Health Organization-recommended hand rub formulations, at full strength and multiple dilutions, and of the active ingredients. All disinfectants demonstrated efficient virus inactivation.


Subject(s)
Alcohols/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Disinfectants/pharmacology , Hand Disinfection/methods , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Virus Inactivation , COVID-19 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , World Health Organization
19.
Nat Microbiol ; 5(11): 1330-1339, 2020 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-676586

ABSTRACT

Zoonotic coronaviruses (CoVs) are substantial threats to global health, as exemplified by the emergence of two severe acute respiratory syndrome CoVs (SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2) and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV) within two decades1-3. Host immune responses to CoVs are complex and regulated in part through antiviral interferons. However, interferon-stimulated gene products that inhibit CoVs are not well characterized4. Here, we show that lymphocyte antigen 6 complex, locus E (LY6E) potently restricts infection by multiple CoVs, including SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV. Mechanistic studies revealed that LY6E inhibits CoV entry into cells by interfering with spike protein-mediated membrane fusion. Importantly, mice lacking Ly6e in immune cells were highly susceptible to a murine CoV-mouse hepatitis virus. Exacerbated viral pathogenesis in Ly6e knockout mice was accompanied by loss of hepatic immune cells, higher splenic viral burden and reduction in global antiviral gene pathways. Accordingly, we found that constitutive Ly6e directly protects primary B cells from murine CoV infection. Our results show that LY6E is a critical antiviral immune effector that controls CoV infection and pathogenesis. These findings advance our understanding of immune-mediated control of CoV in vitro and in vivo-knowledge that could help inform strategies to combat infection by emerging CoVs.


Subject(s)
Antigens, Surface/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Coronavirus/physiology , GPI-Linked Proteins/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Antigens, Surface/genetics , Antigens, Surface/immunology , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Betacoronavirus/physiology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus/immunology , Female , GPI-Linked Proteins/genetics , GPI-Linked Proteins/immunology , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Knockout , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/immunology , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/physiology , Pandemics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS Virus/immunology , SARS Virus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Virus Internalization
20.
Nature ; 582(7813): 561-565, 2020 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-164589

ABSTRACT

Reverse genetics has been an indispensable tool to gain insights into viral pathogenesis and vaccine development. The genomes of large RNA viruses, such as those from coronaviruses, are cumbersome to clone and manipulate in Escherichia coli owing to the size and occasional instability of the genome1-3. Therefore, an alternative rapid and robust reverse-genetics platform for RNA viruses would benefit the research community. Here we show the full functionality of a yeast-based synthetic genomics platform to genetically reconstruct diverse RNA viruses, including members of the Coronaviridae, Flaviviridae and Pneumoviridae families. Viral subgenomic fragments were generated using viral isolates, cloned viral DNA, clinical samples or synthetic DNA, and these fragments were then reassembled in one step in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using transformation-associated recombination cloning to maintain the genome as a yeast artificial chromosome. T7 RNA polymerase was then used to generate infectious RNA to rescue viable virus. Using this platform, we were able to engineer and generate chemically synthesized clones of the virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)4, which has caused the recent pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in only a week after receipt of the synthetic DNA fragments. The technical advance that we describe here facilitates rapid responses to emerging viruses as it enables the real-time generation and functional characterization of evolving RNA virus variants during an outbreak.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Cloning, Molecular/methods , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Genomics/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Reverse Genetics/methods , Synthetic Biology/methods , Animals , COVID-19 , China/epidemiology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Chromosomes, Artificial, Yeast/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases/metabolism , Evolution, Molecular , Humans , Mutation , Pandemics/statistics & numerical data , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Respiratory Syncytial Viruses/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Saccharomyces cerevisiae/genetics , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/metabolism , Zika Virus/genetics
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