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1.
Comput Struct Biotechnol J ; 2020 Dec 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1002467

ABSTRACT

The development of effective and safe vaccines is the ultimate way to efficiently stop the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Built on the fact that SARS-CoV-2 utilizes the association of its Spike (S) protein with the human Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor to invade host cells, we computationally redesigned the S protein sequence to improve its immunogenicity and antigenicity. Toward this purpose, we extended an evolutionary protein design algorithm, EvoDesign, to create thousands of stable S protein variants that perturb the core protein sequence but keep the surface conformation and B cell epitopes. The T cell epitope content and similarity scores of the perturbed sequences were calculated and evaluated. Out of 22,914 designs with favorable stability energy, 301 candidates contained at least two pre-existing immunity-related epitopes and had promising immunogenic potential. The benchmark tests showed that, although the epitope restraints were not included in the scoring function of EvoDesign, the top S protein design successfully recovered 31 out of the 32 major histocompatibility complex (MHC) -II T cell promiscuous epitopes in the native S protein, where two epitopes were present in all seven human coronaviruses. Moreover, the newly designed S protein introduced nine new MHC-II T cell promiscuous epitopes that do not exist in the wildtype SARS-CoV-2. These results demonstrated a new and effective avenue to enhance a target protein's immunogenicity using rational protein design, which could be applied for new vaccine design against COVID-19 and other human viruses.

2.
J Proteome Res ; 19(12): 4844-4856, 2020 12 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-919397

ABSTRACT

Despite considerable research progress on SARS-CoV-2, the direct zoonotic origin (intermediate host) of the virus remains ambiguous. The most definitive approach to identify the intermediate host would be the detection of SARS-CoV-2-like coronaviruses in wild animals. However, due to the high number of animal species, it is not feasible to screen all the species in the laboratory. Given that binding to ACE2 proteins is the first step for the coronaviruses to invade host cells, we propose a computational pipeline to identify potential intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2 by modeling the binding affinity between the Spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) and host ACE2. Using this pipeline, we systematically examined 285 ACE2 variants from mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, and found that the binding energies calculated for the modeled Spike-RBD/ACE2 complex structures correlated closely with the effectiveness of animal infection as determined by multiple experimental data sets. Built on the optimized binding affinity cutoff, we suggest a set of 96 mammals, including 48 experimentally investigated ones, which are permissive to SARS-CoV-2, with candidates from primates, rodents, and carnivores at the highest risk of infection. Overall, this work not only suggests a limited range of potential intermediate SARS-CoV-2 hosts for further experimental investigation, but also, more importantly, it proposes a new structure-based approach to general zoonotic origin and susceptibility analyses that are critical for human infectious disease control and wildlife protection.

3.
J Med Virol ; 2020 Oct 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-856081

ABSTRACT

Since 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS- CoV-2) causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has infected ten millions of people across the globe, and massive mutations in virus genome have occurred during the rapid spread of this novel coronavirus. Variance in protein sequence might lead to change in protein structure and interaction, then further affect the viral physiological characteristics, which could bring tremendous influence on the pandemic. In this study, we investigated 20 non-synonymous mutations in SARS-CoV-2 genome which incidence rates were all ≥1% as of September 1st, 2020, then modeled and analyzed the mutant protein structures. The results showed that four types of mutations caused dramatic changes in protein structures (RMSD ≥5.0 Å), which were Q57H and G251V in open reading frames 3a (ORF3a), S194L and R203K/G204R in nucleocapsid (N). Next, we found that these mutations also affected the binding affinity of intraviral protein interactions. In addition, the hot spots within these docking mutant complexes were altered, among which the mutation Q57H was involved in both Orf3a-S and Orf3a-Orf8 protein interactions. Besides, these mutations were widely distributed all over the world, and their occurrences fluctuated as time went on. Notably, the incidences of R203K/G204R in N and Q57H in Orf3a were both over 50% in some countries. Overall, our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 mutations could change viral protein structure, binding affinity and hot spots of the interface, thereby might have impacts on SARS-CoV-2 transmission, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

4.
J Proteome Res ; 19(4): 1351-1360, 2020 04 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-688546

ABSTRACT

As the infection of 2019-nCoV coronavirus is quickly developing into a global pneumonia epidemic, the careful analysis of its transmission and cellular mechanisms is sorely needed. In this Communication, we first analyzed two recent studies that concluded that snakes are the intermediate hosts of 2019-nCoV and that the 2019-nCoV spike protein insertions share a unique similarity to HIV-1. However, the reimplementation of the analyses, built on larger scale data sets using state-of-the-art bioinformatics methods and databases, presents clear evidence that rebuts these conclusions. Next, using metagenomic samples from Manis javanica, we assembled a draft genome of the 2019-nCoV-like coronavirus, which shows 73% coverage and 91% sequence identity to the 2019-nCoV genome. In particular, the alignments of the spike surface glycoprotein receptor binding domain revealed four times more variations in the bat coronavirus RaTG13 than in the Manis coronavirus compared with 2019-nCoV, suggesting the pangolin as a missing link in the transmission of 2019-nCoV from bats to human.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Models, Molecular , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Eutheria/virology , HIV-1/genetics , Humans , Metagenome , Pandemics , Protein Structure, Tertiary , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Snakes/virology
5.
Aging (Albany NY) ; 12(12): 11263-11276, 2020 06 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-601536

ABSTRACT

The outbreak of COVID-19 has now become a global pandemic that has severely impacted lives and economic stability. There is, however, no effective antiviral drug that can be used to treat COVID-19 to date. Built on the fact that SARS-CoV-2 initiates its entry into human cells by the receptor binding domain (RBD) of its spike protein binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2), we extended a recently developed approach, EvoDesign, to design multiple peptide sequences that can competitively bind to the SARS-CoV-2 RBD to inhibit the virus from entering human cells. The protocol starts with the construction of a hybrid peptidic scaffold by linking two fragments grafted from the interface of the hACE2 protein (a.a. 22-44 and 351-357) with a linker glycine, which is followed by the redesign and refinement simulations of the peptide sequence to optimize its binding affinity to the interface of the SARS-CoV-2 RBD. The binding experiment analyses showed that the designed peptides exhibited a significantly stronger binding potency to hACE2 than the wild-type hACE2 receptor (with -53.35 vs. -46.46 EvoEF2 energy unit scores for the top designed and wild-type peptides, respectively). This study demonstrates a new avenue to utilize computationally designed peptide motifs to treat the COVID-19 disease by blocking the critical spike-RBD and hACE2 interactions.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Peptides/chemical synthesis , Peptides/pharmacology , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/physiology , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/physiology , Amino Acid Sequence , Antiviral Agents , Binding Sites , Drug Design , Evolution, Molecular , Humans , Models, Molecular , Pandemics , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Virus Internalization/drug effects
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