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


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.

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
Aging (Albany NY) ; 12(12): 11263-11276, 2020 06 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-601536


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.

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