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Int J Mol Sci ; 22(19)2021 Sep 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1438627


The ongoing pandemic coronavirus (CoV) disease 2019 (COVID-19) by severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has already caused substantial morbidity, mortality, and economic devastation. Reverse genetic approaches to generate recombinant viruses are a powerful tool to characterize and understand newly emerging viruses. To contribute to the global efforts for countermeasures to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, we developed a passage-free SARS-CoV-2 clone based on a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). Moreover, using a Lambda-based Red recombination, we successfully generated different reporter and marker viruses, which replicated similar to a clinical isolate in a cell culture. Moreover, we designed a full-length reporter virus encoding an additional artificial open reading frame with wild-type-like replication features. The virus-encoded reporters were successfully applied to ease antiviral testing in cell culture models. Furthermore, we designed a new marker virus encoding 3xFLAG-tagged nucleocapsid that allows the detection of incoming viral particles and, in combination with bio-orthogonal labeling for the visualization of viral RNA synthesis via click chemistry, the spatiotemporal tracking of viral replication on the single-cell level. In summary, by applying BAC-based Red recombination, we developed a powerful, reliable, and convenient platform that will facilitate studies answering numerous questions concerning the biology of SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19/virology , Cloning, Molecular/methods , Genome, Viral , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mutagenesis , Plasmids/genetics , Recombination, Genetic , Vero Cells
Pathogens ; 10(9)2021 Aug 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1374480


Currently, human infections with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are accelerating the ongoing spread of the pandemic. Several innovative types of vaccines have already been developed, whereas effective options of antiviral treatments still await a scientific implementation. The development of novel anti-SARS-CoV-2 drug candidates demands skillful strategies and analysis systems. Promising results have been achieved with first generation direct-acting antivirals targeting the viral polymerase RdRp or the protease 3CLpro. Such recently approved or investigational drugs like remdesivir and GC376 represent a basis for further development and optimization. Here, we establish a multi-readout assay (MRA) system that enables the antiviral assessment and mechanistic characterization of novel test compounds, drug repurposing and combination treatments. Our SARS-CoV-2-specific MRA combines the quantitative measurement of several parameters of virus infection, such as the intracellular production of proteins and genomes, enzymatic activities and virion release, as well as the use of reporter systems. In this regard, the antiviral efficacy of remdesivir and GC376 has been investigated in human Caco-2 cells. The readouts included the use of spike- and double-strand RNA-specific monoclonal antibodies for in-cell fluorescence imaging, a newly generated recombinant SARS-CoV-2 reporter virus d6YFP, the novel 3CLpro-based FRET CFP::YFP and the previously reported FlipGFP reporter assays, as well as viral genome-specific RT-qPCR. The data produced by our MRA confirm the high antiviral potency of these two drugs in vitro. Combined, this MRA approach may be applied for broader analyses of SARS-CoV-2-specific antivirals, including compound screenings and the characterization of selected drug candidates.