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Biophys J ; 121(2): 207-227, 2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1634388


Entry of coronaviruses into host cells is mediated by the viral spike protein. Previously, we identified the bona fide fusion peptides (FPs) for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus ("SARS-1") and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 ("SARS-2") using electron spin resonance spectroscopy. We also found that their FPs induce membrane ordering in a Ca2+-dependent fashion. Here we study which negatively charged residues in SARS-1 FP are involved in this binding, to build a topological model and clarify the role of Ca2+. Our systematic mutation study on the SARS-1 FP shows that all six negatively charged residues contribute to the FP's membrane ordering activity, with D812 the dominant residue. The corresponding SARS-2 residue D830 plays an equivalent role. We provide a topological model of how the FP binds Ca2+ ions: its two segments FP1 and FP2 each bind one Ca2+. The binding of Ca2+, the folding of FP (both studied by isothermal titration calorimetry experiments), and the ordering activity correlate very well across the mutants, suggesting that the Ca2+ helps the folding of FP in membranes to enhance the ordering activity. Using a novel pseudotyped viral particle-liposome methodology, we monitored the membrane ordering induced by the FPs in the whole spike protein in its trimer form in real time. We found that the SARS-1 and SARS-2 pseudotyped viral particles also induce membrane ordering to the extent that separate FPs do, and mutations of the negatively charged residues also significantly suppress the membrane ordering activity. However, the slower kinetics of the FP ordering activity versus that of the pseudotyped viral particle suggest the need for initial trimerization of the FPs.

COVID-19 , Membrane Fusion , Humans , Peptides , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics
J Virol ; 94(13)2020 06 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1583223


Fusion with, and subsequent entry into, the host cell is one of the critical steps in the life cycle of enveloped viruses. For Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the spike (S) protein is the main determinant of viral entry. Proteolytic cleavage of the S protein exposes its fusion peptide (FP), which initiates the process of membrane fusion. Previous studies on the related severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) FP have shown that calcium ions (Ca2+) play an important role in fusogenic activity via a Ca2+ binding pocket with conserved glutamic acid (E) and aspartic acid (D) residues. SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV FPs share a high sequence homology, and here, we investigated whether Ca2+ is required for MERS-CoV fusion by screening a mutant array in which E and D residues in the MERS-CoV FP were substituted with neutrally charged alanines (A). Upon verifying mutant cell surface expression and proteolytic cleavage, we tested their ability to mediate pseudoparticle (PP) infection of host cells in modulating Ca2+ environments. Our results demonstrate that intracellular Ca2+ enhances MERS-CoV wild-type (WT) PP infection by approximately 2-fold and that E891 is a crucial residue for Ca2+ interaction. Subsequent electron spin resonance (ESR) experiments revealed that this enhancement could be attributed to Ca2+ increasing MERS-CoV FP fusion-relevant membrane ordering. Intriguingly, isothermal calorimetry showed an approximate 1:1 MERS-CoV FP to Ca2+ ratio, as opposed to an 1:2 SARS-CoV FP to Ca2+ ratio, suggesting significant differences in FP Ca2+ interactions of MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV FP despite their high sequence similarity.IMPORTANCE Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a major emerging infectious disease with zoonotic potential and has reservoirs in dromedary camels and bats. Since its first outbreak in 2012, the virus has repeatedly transmitted from camels to humans, with 2,468 confirmed cases causing 851 deaths. To date, there are no efficacious drugs and vaccines against MERS-CoV, increasing its potential to cause a public health emergency. In order to develop novel drugs and vaccines, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms that enable the virus to infect host cells. Our data have found that calcium is an important regulator of viral fusion by interacting with negatively charged residues in the MERS-CoV FP region. This information can guide therapeutic solutions to block this calcium interaction and also repurpose already approved drugs for this use for a fast response to MERS-CoV outbreaks.

Calcium/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Ions/metabolism , Membrane Fusion , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/physiology , Virus Internalization , Amino Acid Sequence , Amino Acid Substitution , Animals , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Protein Binding , Proteolysis , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Structure-Activity Relationship , Vero Cells , Virulence , Virus Assembly
J Mol Biol ; 433(10): 166946, 2021 05 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1386061


Coronaviruses are a major infectious disease threat, and include the zoonotic-origin human pathogens SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV (SARS-2, SARS-1, and MERS). Entry of coronaviruses into host cells is mediated by the spike (S) protein. In our previous ESR studies, the local membrane ordering effect of the fusion peptide (FP) of various viral glycoproteins including the S of SARS-1 and MERS has been consistently observed. We previously determined that the sequence immediately downstream from the S2' cleavage site is the bona fide SARS-1 FP. In this study, we used sequence alignment to identify the SARS-2 FP, and studied its membrane ordering effect. Although there are only three residue differences, SARS-2 FP induces even greater membrane ordering than SARS-1 FP, possibly due to its greater hydrophobicity. This may be a reason that SARS-2 is better able to infect host cells. In addition, the membrane binding enthalpy for SARS-2 is greater. Both the membrane ordering of SARS-2 and SARS-1 FPs are dependent on Ca2+, but that of SARS-2 shows a greater response to the presence of Ca2+. Both FPs bind two Ca2+ ions as does SARS-1 FP, but the two Ca2+ binding sites of SARS-2 exhibit greater cooperativity. This Ca2+ dependence by the SARS-2 FP is very ion-specific. These results show that Ca2+ is an important regulator that interacts with the SARS-2 FP and thus plays a significant role in SARS-2 viral entry. This could lead to therapeutic solutions that either target the FP-calcium interaction or block the Ca2+ channel.

Calcium/metabolism , Cell Membrane/metabolism , SARS Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Viral Fusion Proteins/metabolism , Amino Acid Sequence , Binding Sites , Calcium/pharmacology , Calorimetry , Cell Membrane/drug effects , Cell Membrane/virology , Hydrogen-Ion Concentration , Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions , SARS Virus/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Thermodynamics , Viral Fusion Proteins/chemistry , Viral Fusion Proteins/genetics , Virus Internalization/drug effects