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Viruses ; 14(4)2022 04 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1792411


Combined in silico, in vitro, and in vivo comparative studies between isogenic-recombinant Mouse-Hepatitis-Virus-RSA59 and its proline deletion mutant, revealed a remarkable contribution of centrally located two consecutive prolines (PP) from Spike protein fusion peptide (FP) in enhancing virus fusogenic and hepato-neuropathogenic potential. To deepen our understanding of the underlying factors, we extend our studies to a non-fusogenic parental virus strain RSMHV2 (P) with a single proline in the FP and its proline inserted mutant, RSMHV2 (PP). Comparative in vitro and in vivo studies between virus strains RSA59(PP), RSMHV2 (P), and RSMHV2 (PP) in the FP demonstrate that the insertion of one proline significantly resulted in enhancing the virus fusogenicity, spread, and consecutive neuropathogenesis. Computational studies suggest that the central PP in Spike FP induces a locally ordered, compact, and rigid structure of the Spike protein in RSMHV2 (PP) compared to RSMHV2 (P), but globally the Spike S2-domain is akin to the parental strain RSA59(PP), the latter being the most flexible showing two potential wells in the energy landscape as observed from the molecular dynamics studies. The critical location of two central prolines of the FP is essential for fusogenicity and pathogenesis making it a potential site for designing antiviral.

Demyelinating Diseases , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Animals , Mice , Peptides/metabolism , Proline , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Viral Envelope Proteins/metabolism