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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335620

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is a highly contagious respiratory virus and the causative agent for COVID-19. The severity of disease varies from mildly symptomatic to lethal and shows an extraordinary correlation with increasing age, which represents the major risk factor for severe COVID-19 1 . However, the precise pathomechanisms leading to aggravated disease in the elderly are currently unknown. Delayed and insufficient antiviral immune responses early after infection as well as dysregulated and overshooting immunopathological processes late during disease were suggested as possible mechanisms. Here we show that the age-dependent increase of COVID-19 severity is caused by the disruption of a timely and well-coordinated innate and adaptive immune response due to impaired interferon (IFN) responses. To overcome the limitations of mechanistic studies in humans, we generated a mouse model for severe COVID-19 and compared the kinetics of the immune responses in adult and aged mice at different time points after infection. Aggravated disease in aged mice was characterized by a diminished IFN-γ response and excessive virus replication. Accordingly, adult IFN-γ receptor-deficient mice phenocopied the age-related disease severity and supplementation of IFN-γ reversed the increased disease susceptibility of aged mice. Mimicking impaired type I IFN immunity in adult and aged mice, a second major risk factor for severe COVID-19 2–4 , we found that therapeutic treatment with IFN-λ in adult and a combinatorial treatment with IFN-γ and IFN-λ in aged Ifnar1 -/- mice was highly efficient in protecting against severe disease. Our findings provide an explanation for the age-dependent disease severity of COVID-19 and clarify the nonredundant antiviral functions of type I, II and III IFNs during SARS-CoV-2 infection in an age-dependent manner. Based on our data, we suggest that highly vulnerable individuals combining both risk factors, advanced age and an impaired type I IFN immunity, may greatly benefit from immunotherapy combining IFN-γ and IFN-λ.

2.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 6(1): 202, 2021 05 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387228
3.
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
4.
EMBO J ; 40(11): e102277, 2021 06 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1194823

ABSTRACT

The ongoing outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) demonstrates the continuous threat of emerging coronaviruses (CoVs) to public health. SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV share an otherwise non-conserved part of non-structural protein 3 (Nsp3), therefore named as "SARS-unique domain" (SUD). We previously found a yeast-2-hybrid screen interaction of the SARS-CoV SUD with human poly(A)-binding protein (PABP)-interacting protein 1 (Paip1), a stimulator of protein translation. Here, we validate SARS-CoV SUD:Paip1 interaction by size-exclusion chromatography, split-yellow fluorescent protein, and co-immunoprecipitation assays, and confirm such interaction also between the corresponding domain of SARS-CoV-2 and Paip1. The three-dimensional structure of the N-terminal domain of SARS-CoV SUD ("macrodomain II", Mac2) in complex with the middle domain of Paip1, determined by X-ray crystallography and small-angle X-ray scattering, provides insights into the structural determinants of the complex formation. In cellulo, SUD enhances synthesis of viral but not host proteins via binding to Paip1 in pBAC-SARS-CoV replicon-transfected cells. We propose a possible mechanism for stimulation of viral translation by the SUD of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/metabolism , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral , Peptide Initiation Factors/metabolism , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism , SARS Virus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Amino Acid Sequence , Bacterial Proteins , Chromatography, Gel , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/chemistry , Crystallography, X-Ray , Genes, Reporter , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunoprecipitation , Luminescent Proteins , Models, Molecular , Peptide Initiation Factors/chemistry , Protein Binding , Protein Biosynthesis , Protein Conformation , Protein Domains , Protein Interaction Mapping , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA-Binding Proteins/chemistry , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/chemistry , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/chemistry , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/metabolism , Ribosome Subunits/metabolism , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Scattering, Small Angle , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Homology, Amino Acid , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/chemistry , X-Ray Diffraction
5.
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
7.
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.

8.
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
9.
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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