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mBio ; 13(3): e0068322, 2022 06 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1788919


Compared to the original ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2, the Delta variant of concern has shown increased transmissibility and resistance toward COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. However, the pathogenesis of the disease associated with Delta is still not clear. In this study, using K18-hACE2 transgenic mice, we assessed the pathogenicity of the Delta variant by characterizing the immune response following infection. We found that Delta induced the same clinical disease manifestations as the ancestral SARS-CoV-2, but with significant dissemination to multiple tissues, such as brain, intestine, and kidney. Histopathological analysis showed that tissue pathology and cell infiltration in the lungs of Delta-infected mice were the same as in mice infected with the ancestral SARS-CoV-2. Delta infection caused perivascular inflammation in the brain and intestinal wall thinning in K18-hACE2 transgenic mice. Increased cell infiltration in the kidney was observed in both ancestral strain- and Delta-infected mice, with no clear visible tissue damage identified in either group. Interestingly, compared with mice infected with the ancestral strain, the numbers of CD45+ cells, T cells, B cells, inflammatory monocytes, and dendritic cells were all significantly lower in the lungs of the Delta-infected mice, although there was no significant difference in the levels of proinflammatory cytokines between the two groups. Our results showed distinct immune response patterns in the lungs of K18-hACE2 mice infected with either the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 or Delta variant of concern, which may help to guide therapeutic interventions for emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. IMPORTANCE SARS-CoV-2 variants, with the threat of increased transmissibility, infectivity, and immune escape, continue to emerge as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Detailing the pathogenesis of disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 variants, such as Delta, is essential to better understand the clinical threat caused by emerging variants and associated disease. This study, using the K18-hACE2 mouse model of severe COVID-19, provides essential observation and analysis on the pathogenicity and immune response of Delta infection. These observations shed light on the changing disease profile associated with emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants and have potential to guide COVID-19 treatment strategies.

COVID-19 , Hepatitis D , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19 Vaccines , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Melphalan , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , gamma-Globulins
mBio ; 12(2)2021 04 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1195827


Newly emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has caused extensive mortality and morbidity and wreaked havoc on socioeconomic structures. The urgent need to better understand SARS-CoV-2 biology and enable continued development of effective countermeasures is aided by the production of laboratory tools that facilitate SARS-CoV-2 research. We previously created a directly accessible SARS-CoV-2 toolkit containing user-friendly reverse genetic (RG) infectious clones of SARS-CoV-2. Here, using K18-human ACE2 (hACE2) mice, we confirmed the validity of RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 viruses to reproduce the infection profile, clinical disease, and pathogenesis already established in mice infected with natural SARS-CoV-2 isolates, often patient derived. RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2-infected K18-hACE2 mice developed substantial clinical disease and weight loss by day 6 postinfection. RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 was recovered from the lungs and brains of infected K18-hACE2 mice, and infection resulted in viral pneumonia with considerable changes in lung pathology, as seen previously with natural SARS-CoV-2 infection. In mice infected with RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2-mCherry, mCherry was detected in areas of lung consolidation and colocalized with clinically relevant SARS-CoV-2-assocated immunopathology. RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 viruses successfully recapitulated many of the features of severe COVID-19 associated with the K18-hACE2 model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. With utility in vivo, the RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 viruses will be valuable resources to advance numerous areas of SARS-CoV-2 basic research and COVID-19 vaccine development.IMPORTANCE To develop COVID-19 countermeasures, powerful research tools are essential. We produced a SARS-COV-2 reverse genetic (RG) infectious clone toolkit that will benefit a variety of investigations. In this study, we further prove the toolkit's value by demonstrating the in vivo utility of RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 isolates. RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 isolates reproduce disease signs and pathology characteristic of the K18-hACE2 mouse model of severe COVID-19 in infected mice. Having been validated as a model of severe COVID-19 previously using only natural SARS-CoV-2 isolated from patients, this is the first investigation of RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 viruses in K18-hACE2 mice. The RG-rescued SARS-CoV-2 viruses will facilitate basic understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and the preclinical development of COVID-19 therapeutics.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/etiology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Animals , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/etiology , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Host Microbial Interactions , Humans , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism , Lung/immunology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Male , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/etiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Reverse Genetics/methods , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Viral Tropism , Virus Replication
PLoS Biol ; 19(2): e3001091, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1102372


The recent emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the underlying cause of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has led to a worldwide pandemic causing substantial morbidity, mortality, and economic devastation. In response, many laboratories have redirected attention to SARS-CoV-2, meaning there is an urgent need for tools that can be used in laboratories unaccustomed to working with coronaviruses. Here we report a range of tools for SARS-CoV-2 research. First, we describe a facile single plasmid SARS-CoV-2 reverse genetics system that is simple to genetically manipulate and can be used to rescue infectious virus through transient transfection (without in vitro transcription or additional expression plasmids). The rescue system is accompanied by our panel of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (against nearly every viral protein), SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolates, and SARS-CoV-2 permissive cell lines, which are all openly available to the scientific community. Using these tools, we demonstrate here that the controversial ORF10 protein is expressed in infected cells. Furthermore, we show that the promising repurposed antiviral activity of apilimod is dependent on TMPRSS2 expression. Altogether, our SARS-CoV-2 toolkit, which can be directly accessed via our website at, constitutes a resource with considerable potential to advance COVID-19 vaccine design, drug testing, and discovery science.

COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/virology , Reverse Genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , A549 Cells , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Codon , Humans , Hydrazones/pharmacology , Mice , Morpholines/pharmacology , Open Reading Frames , Plasmids/genetics , Pyrimidines/pharmacology , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/metabolism