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1.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-313756

ABSTRACT

Small animal models are of crucial importance for assessing COVID-19 countermeasures. Common laboratory mice would be well-suited for this purpose but are not susceptible to infection with wild-type SARS-CoV-2. Herein we show that the SARS-CoV-2 beta variant attains infectibility to BALB/c mice and causes pulmonary changes consistent with COVID-19.

2.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-312807

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 remains a global threat to human health particularly as escape mutants emerge. There is an unmet need for effective treatments against COVID-19 for which neutralizing single domain antibodies (nanobodies) have significant potential. Their small size and stability mean that nanobodies are compatible with respiratory administration. We report four nanobodies (C5, H3, C1, F2) engineered as homotrimers with pmolar affinity for the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Crystal structures show C5 and H3 overlap the ACE2 epitope, whilst C1 and F2 bind to a different epitope. Cryo Electron Microscopy shows C5 binding results in an all down arrangement of the Spike protein. C1, H3 and C5 all neutralize the Victoria strain, and the highly transmissible Alpha (B.1.1.7 first identified in Kent, UK) strain and C1 also neutralizes the Beta (B.1.35, first identified in South Africa). Administration of C5-trimer via the respiratory route showed potent therapeutic efficacy in the Syrian hamster model of COVID-19 and separately effective prophylaxis. The molecule was similarly potent by intraperitoneal injection.

3.
Viruses ; 13(11)2021 11 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512701

ABSTRACT

Small animal models are of crucial importance for assessing COVID-19 countermeasures. Common laboratory mice would be well-suited for this purpose but are not susceptible to infection with wild-type SARS-CoV-2. However, the development of mouse-adapted virus strains has revealed key mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that increase infectivity, and interestingly, many of these mutations are also present in naturally occurring SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. This suggests that these variants might have the ability to infect common laboratory mice. Herein we show that the SARS-CoV-2 beta variant attains infectibility to BALB/c mice and causes pulmonary changes within 2-3 days post infection, consistent with results seen in other murine models of COVID-19, at a reasonable virus dose (2 × 105 PFU). The findings suggest that common laboratory mice can serve as the animal model of choice for testing the effectiveness of antiviral drugs and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Disease Models, Animal , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Brain/virology , COVID-19/pathology , Female , Inflammation , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Male , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Nose/virology , Pulmonary Alveoli/pathology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
4.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5469, 2021 09 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1434103

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 remains a global threat to human health particularly as escape mutants emerge. There is an unmet need for effective treatments against COVID-19 for which neutralizing single domain antibodies (nanobodies) have significant potential. Their small size and stability mean that nanobodies are compatible with respiratory administration. We report four nanobodies (C5, H3, C1, F2) engineered as homotrimers with pmolar affinity for the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Crystal structures show C5 and H3 overlap the ACE2 epitope, whilst C1 and F2 bind to a different epitope. Cryo Electron Microscopy shows C5 binding results in an all down arrangement of the Spike protein. C1, H3 and C5 all neutralize the Victoria strain, and the highly transmissible Alpha (B.1.1.7 first identified in Kent, UK) strain and C1 also neutralizes the Beta (B.1.35, first identified in South Africa). Administration of C5-trimer via the respiratory route showed potent therapeutic efficacy in the Syrian hamster model of COVID-19 and separately, effective prophylaxis. The molecule was similarly potent by intraperitoneal injection.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Single-Domain Antibodies/pharmacology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Administration, Intranasal , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/genetics , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Crystallography, X-Ray , Disease Models, Animal , Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/metabolism , Female , Male , Mesocricetus , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Single-Domain Antibodies/administration & dosage , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
5.
FEBS Lett ; 595(18): 2323-2340, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1332924

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, has triggered a worldwide health emergency. Here, we show that ferritin-like Dps from hyperthermophilic Sulfolobus islandicus, covalently coupled with SARS-CoV-2 antigens via the SpyCatcher system, forms stable multivalent dodecameric vaccine nanoparticles that remain intact even after lyophilisation. Immunisation experiments in mice demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) coupled to Dps (RBD-S-Dps) elicited a higher antibody titre and an enhanced neutralising antibody response compared to monomeric RBD. A single immunisation with RBD-S-Dps completely protected hACE2-expressing mice from serious illness and led to viral clearance from the lungs upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data highlight that multimerised SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccines are a highly efficacious modality, particularly when combined with an ultra-stable scaffold.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Receptors, Virus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Bacterial Proteins/chemistry , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19 Vaccines/chemistry , DNA-Binding Proteins/chemistry , Ferritins/chemistry , Humans , Immunization , Mice , Nanoparticles , Protein Domains , Protein Multimerization , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Sulfolobus
6.
Viruses ; 13(8)2021 07 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1325792

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has affected millions of people globally since its first detection in late 2019. Besides humans, cats and, to some extent, dogs were shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, highlighting the need for surveillance in a One Health context. Seven veterinary clinics from regions with high incidences of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were recruited during the early pandemic (March to July 2020) for the screening of patients. A total of 2257 oropharyngeal and nasal swab specimen from 877 dogs and 260 cats (including 18 animals from COVID-19-affected households and 92 animals with signs of respiratory disease) were analyzed for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA using reverse transcriptase real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) targeting the viral envelope (E) and RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) genes. One oropharyngeal swab from an Italian cat, living in a COVID-19-affected household in Piedmont, tested positive in RT-qPCR (1/260; 0.38%, 95% CI: 0.01-2.1%), and SARS-CoV-2 infection of the animal was serologically confirmed six months later. One oropharyngeal swab from a dog was potentially positive (1/877; 0.1%, 95% CI: 0.002-0.63%), but the result was not confirmed in a reference laboratory. Analyses of convenience sera from 118 animals identified one dog (1/94; 1.1%; 95% CI: 0.02-5.7%) from Lombardy, but no cats (0/24), as positive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies and neutralizing activity. These findings support the hypothesis that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pet cat and dog populations, and hence, the risk of zoonotic transmission to veterinary staff, was low during the first wave of the pandemic, even in hotspot areas.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/veterinary , Cat Diseases/virology , Dog Diseases/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Animals , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cat Diseases/diagnosis , Cat Diseases/epidemiology , Cats , Dog Diseases/diagnosis , Dog Diseases/epidemiology , Dogs , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Italy/epidemiology , Male , Oropharynx/virology , Pandemics , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
7.
EMBO J ; 40(6): e105543, 2021 03 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1084490

ABSTRACT

Influenza A virus (IAV) and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) cause pandemic infections where cytokine storm syndrome and lung inflammation lead to high mortality. Given the high social and economic cost of respiratory viruses, there is an urgent need to understand how the airways defend against virus infection. Here we use mice lacking the WD and linker domains of ATG16L1 to demonstrate that ATG16L1-dependent targeting of LC3 to single-membrane, non-autophagosome compartments - referred to as non-canonical autophagy - protects mice from lethal IAV infection. Mice with systemic loss of non-canonical autophagy are exquisitely sensitive to low-pathogenicity IAV where extensive viral replication throughout the lungs, coupled with cytokine amplification mediated by plasmacytoid dendritic cells, leads to fulminant pneumonia, lung inflammation and high mortality. IAV was controlled within epithelial barriers where non-canonical autophagy reduced IAV fusion with endosomes and activation of interferon signalling. Conditional mouse models and ex vivo analysis showed that protection against IAV infection of lung was independent of phagocytes and other leucocytes. This establishes non-canonical autophagy in airway epithelial cells as a novel innate defence that restricts IAV infection and lethal inflammation at respiratory surfaces.


Subject(s)
Autophagy-Related Proteins/genetics , Influenza A virus/pathogenicity , Microtubule-Associated Proteins/metabolism , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/genetics , Sequence Deletion , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/virology , Animals , Autophagy , Autophagy-Related Proteins/chemistry , Autophagy-Related Proteins/metabolism , Chick Embryo , Cytokines/metabolism , Dogs , Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells , Mice , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/immunology , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/mortality , Protein Domains , Virus Replication
8.
Pathogens ; 9(11)2020 Oct 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-895395

ABSTRACT

Feline coronavirus (FCoV) infection initiates monocyte-associated viremia and viral persistence. Virus-infected, -activated monocytes also trigger feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a fatal systemic disease of felids typified by granulomatous (peri)phlebitis. Currently, the exact mechanisms inducing monocyte activation and FIP are unknown. This study attempted to identify the potential immediate effect of virulent FCoV on colony-stimulating factor (CSF) (granulocyte (G)-CSF, monocyte (M)-CSF and granulocyte-monocyte (GM)-CSF levels through in vitro assessment, alongside prototypical pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators (interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-12p40, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and IL-10); this was assessed alongside the in vivo situation in the hemolymphatic tissues of cats euthanized with natural end-stage FIP. For the in vitro work, isolated monocytes from SPF cats were cultured short-term and infected with the FIP virus (FIPV) strain DF2. Mediator transcription was assessed by quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR) at 3, 6 and 9 h post infection (hpi), and in the post-mortem samples of bone marrow, spleen, and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) of cats with FIP. We observed limited and transient changes in cytokine transcription in monocytes after infection, i.e., a significant increase of IL-6 at 3 hpi and of GM-CSF over the 3 and 6 hpi period, whereas M-CSF was significantly decreased at 9 hpi, with a limited effect of age. The findings indicate that the infection induces expansion of the monocyte/macrophage population, which would ensure the sufficient supply of cells for consistent viral replication. In natural disease, the only upregulation was of G-CSF in the MLN, suggesting either immune exhaustion or an active downregulation by the host as part of its viral response.

9.
J Virol ; 94(18)2020 08 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-640272

ABSTRACT

In recent years, nidoviruses have emerged as important respiratory pathogens of reptiles, affecting captive python populations. In pythons, nidovirus (recently reclassified as serpentovirus) infection induces an inflammation of the upper respiratory and alimentary tract which can develop into a severe, often fatal proliferative pneumonia. We observed pyogranulomatous and fibrinonecrotic lesions in organ systems other than the respiratory tract during full postmortem examinations on 30 serpentovirus reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR)-positive pythons of varying species originating from Switzerland and Spain. The observations prompted us to study whether this not yet reported wider distribution of lesions is associated with previously unknown serpentoviruses or changes in the serpentovirus genome. RT-PCR and inoculation of Morelia viridis cell cultures served to recruit the cases and obtain virus isolates. Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence staining against serpentovirus nucleoprotein demonstrated that the virus infects not only a broad spectrum of epithelia (respiratory and alimentary epithelium, hepatocytes, renal tubules, pancreatic ducts, etc.), but also intravascular monocytes, intralesional macrophages, and endothelial cells. With next-generation sequencing we obtained a full-length genome for a novel serpentovirus species circulating in Switzerland. Analysis of viral genomes recovered from pythons showing serpentovirus infection-associated respiratory or systemic disease did not reveal sequence association to phenotypes; however, functional studies with different strains are needed to confirm this observation. The results indicate that serpentoviruses have a broad cell and tissue tropism, further suggesting that the course of infection could vary and involve lesions in a broad spectrum of tissues and organ systems as a consequence of monocyte-mediated viral systemic spread.IMPORTANCE During the last years, python nidoviruses (now reclassified as serpentoviruses) have become a primary cause of fatal disease in pythons. Serpentoviruses represent a threat to captive snake collections, as they spread rapidly and can be associated with high morbidity and mortality. Our study indicates that, different from previous evidence, the viruses do not only affect the respiratory tract, but can spread in the entire body with blood monocytes, have a broad spectrum of target cells, and can induce a variety of lesions. Nidovirales is an order of animal and human viruses that comprises important zoonotic pathogens such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and SARS-CoV-2. Serpentoviruses belong to the same order as the above-mentioned human viruses and show similar characteristics (rapid spread, respiratory and gastrointestinal tropism, etc.). The present study confirms the relevance of natural animal diseases to better understand the complexity of viruses of the order Nidovirales.


Subject(s)
Nidovirales Infections/virology , Nidovirales/physiology , Respiratory Tract Infections/virology , Animal Diseases/diagnosis , Animal Diseases/virology , Animals , Biopsy , Boidae/virology , Disease Susceptibility , Humans , Immunohistochemistry , Nidovirales/isolation & purification , Nidovirales Infections/diagnosis , Organ Specificity , Phenotype , Phylogeny , Recombination, Genetic , Respiratory Tract Infections/diagnosis , Viral Tropism , Virus Shedding
10.
Pathogens ; 9(7)2020 Jun 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-624198

ABSTRACT

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a coronavirus-induced disease of cats, in which the immune system is known to play a crucial, but complex, role in the pathogenesis. This role is still incompletely understood, with involvement of both host and viral factors. To evaluate differential gene expression and pathway involvement in feline coronavirus (FCoV) infection and FIP, we applied next-generation RNA-sequencing of the mesenteric lymph nodes from cats with naturally-acquired FIP, as well as those with systemic FCoV infection without FIP, and those with neither. Viral infection was associated with upregulation of viral defenses regardless of the disease state, but to a greater degree in FIP. FIP was associated with higher pro-inflammatory pathway enrichment, whilst non-FIP FCoV-positive cats showed lower enrichment of humoral immunity pathways, below that of uninfected cats in the case of immunoglobulin production pathways. This host response is presumed to be protective. In FIP, downregulation of T cell-related processes was observed, which did not occur in non-FIP FCoV-positive cats. These results emphasize the importance of the host's immune balance in determining the outcome of the FCoV infection.

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