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1.
mBio ; : e0366221, 2022 Jan 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1741579

ABSTRACT

The ongoing coronavirus (CoV) disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Understanding the immunological and pathological processes of coronavirus diseases is crucial for the rational design of effective vaccines and therapies for COVID-19. Previous studies showed that 2'-O-methylation of the viral RNA cap structure is required to prevent the recognition of viral RNAs by intracellular innate sensors. Here, we demonstrate that the guanine N7-methylation of the 5' cap mediated by coronavirus nonstructural protein 14 (nsp14) contributes to viral evasion of the type I interferon (IFN-I)-mediated immune response and pathogenesis in mice. A Y414A substitution in nsp14 of the coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) significantly decreased N7-methyltransferase activity and reduced guanine N7-methylation of the 5' cap in vitro. Infection of myeloid cells with recombinant MHV harboring the nsp14-Y414A mutation (rMHVnsp14-Y414A) resulted in upregulated expression of IFN-I and ISG15 mainly via MDA5 signaling and in reduced viral replication compared to that of wild-type rMHV. rMHVnsp14-Y414A replicated to lower titers in livers and brains and exhibited an attenuated phenotype in mice. This attenuated phenotype was IFN-I dependent because the virulence of the rMHVnsp14-Y414A mutant was restored in Ifnar-/- mice. We further found that the comparable mutation (Y420A) in SARS-CoV-2 nsp14 (rSARS-CoV-2nsp14-Y420A) also significantly decreased N7-methyltransferase activity in vitro, and the mutant virus was attenuated in K18-human ACE2 transgenic mice. Moreover, infection with rSARS-CoV-2nsp14-Y420A conferred complete protection against subsequent and otherwise lethal SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice, indicating the vaccine potential of this mutant. IMPORTANCE Coronaviruses (CoVs), including SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, use several strategies to evade the host innate immune responses. While the cap structure of RNA, including CoV RNA, is important for translation, previous studies indicate that the cap also contributes to viral evasion from the host immune response. In this study, we demonstrate that the N7-methylated cap structure of CoV RNA is pivotal for virus immunoevasion. Using recombinant MHV and SARS-CoV-2 encoding an inactive N7-methyltransferase, we demonstrate that these mutant viruses are highly attenuated in vivo and that attenuation is apparent at very early times after infection. Virulence is restored in mice lacking interferon signaling. Further, we show that infection with virus defective in N7-methylation protects mice from lethal SARS-CoV-2, suggesting that the N7-methylase might be a useful target in drug and vaccine development.

2.
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
3.
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
4.
Sci Adv ; 7(49): eabk0172, 2021 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546430

ABSTRACT

Vaccines are instrumental and indispensable in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Several recent SARS-CoV-2 variants are more transmissible and evade infection- or vaccine-induced protection. We constructed live attenuated vaccine candidates by large-scale recoding of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and showed that the lead candidate, designated sCPD9, protects Syrian hamsters from a challenge with ancestral virus. Here, we assessed immunogenicity and protective efficacy of sCPD9 in the Roborovski dwarf hamster, a nontransgenic rodent species that is highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and severe COVID-19­like disease. We show that a single intranasal vaccination with sCPD9 elicited strong cross-neutralizing antibody responses against four current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), B.1.1.28.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta). The sCPD9 vaccine offered complete protection from COVID-19­like disease caused by the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1 and the two variants of concern B.1.1.7 and B.1.351.

5.
Science ; 374(6571): 1099-1106, 2021 Nov 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1467657

ABSTRACT

Molecular virology tools are critical for basic studies of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and for developing new therapeutics. Experimental systems that do not rely on viruses capable of spread are needed for potential use in lower-containment settings. In this work, we use a yeast-based reverse genetics system to develop spike-deleted SARS-CoV-2 self-replicating RNAs. These noninfectious self-replicating RNAs, or replicons, can be trans-complemented with viral glycoproteins to generate replicon delivery particles for single-cycle delivery into a range of cell types. This SARS-CoV-2 replicon system represents a convenient and versatile platform for antiviral drug screening, neutralization assays, host factor validation, and viral variant characterization.


Subject(s)
RNA, Viral/genetics , Replicon/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cell Line , Humans , Interferons/pharmacology , Microbial Sensitivity Tests , Mutation , Plasmids , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Replicon/genetics , Reverse Genetics , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Saccharomyces cerevisiae/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Virion/genetics , Virion/physiology , Virus Replication
6.
Cell Rep ; 36(5): 109493, 2021 08 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1328703

ABSTRACT

Safe and effective vaccines are urgently needed to stop the pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We construct a series of live attenuated vaccine candidates by large-scale recoding of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and assess their safety and efficacy in Syrian hamsters. Animals were vaccinated with a single dose of the respective recoded virus and challenged 21 days later. Two of the tested viruses do not cause clinical symptoms but are highly immunogenic and induce strong protective immunity. Attenuated viruses replicate efficiently in the upper but not in the lower airways, causing only mild pulmonary histopathology. After challenge, hamsters develop no signs of disease and rapidly clear challenge virus: at no time could infectious virus be recovered from the lungs of infected animals. The ease with which attenuated virus candidates can be produced and administered favors their further development as vaccines to combat the ongoing pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Respiratory System/pathology , Respiratory System/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Gene Editing , Genome, Viral , Humans , Immunity , Mesocricetus , Mutation , Pandemics/prevention & control , Vaccines, Attenuated , Vero Cells , Virus Replication
7.
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
8.
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
9.
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
11.
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.

12.
Methods Mol Biol ; 2203: 167-184, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-761352

ABSTRACT

The Escherichia coli and vaccinia virus-based reverse genetics systems have been widely applied for the manipulation and engineering of coronavirus genomes. These systems, however, present several limitations and are sometimes difficult to establish in a timely manner for (re-)emerging viruses. In this chapter, we present a new universal reverse genetics platform for the assembly and engineering of infectious full-length cDNAs using yeast-based transformation-associated recombination cloning. This novel assembly method not only results in stable coronavirus infectious full-length cDNAs cloned in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae but also fosters and accelerates the manipulation of their genomes. Such a platform is widely applicable for the scientific community, as it requires no specific equipment and can be performed in a standard laboratory setting. The protocol described can be easily adapted to virtually all known or emerging coronaviruses, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).


Subject(s)
Coronavirus/genetics , DNA, Complementary/genetics , Genomics/methods , Saccharomyces cerevisiae/genetics , Animals , Cell Line , Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Homologous Recombination , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/genetics , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity
13.
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
14.
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
15.
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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