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1.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-313939

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 emerged in China at the end of 2019 and caused the global pandemic of COVID-19, a disease with high morbidity and mortality. While our understanding of this novel virus is rapidly increasing, gaps remain in our understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 can effectively suppress host cell antiviral responses. Recent work on other viruses has demonstrated a novel mechanism through which viral proteins can mimic critical regions of human histone proteins. Histone proteins are responsible for governing genome accessibility and their precise regulation is critical for a cell’s ability to control transcription and respond to viral threats. Here, we show that the protein encoded by ORF8 (Orf8) in SARS-CoV-2 functions as a histone mimic of two critical histone 3 sites containing an ARKS motif. Orf8 expression in cells disrupts multiple critical histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) while Orf8 lacking this histone mimic motif does not. Orf8 binds to numerous histone-associated proteins and to DNA, and is itself acetylated within the histone mimic site. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2 infection of multiple susceptible cell types causes the same global changes of histone post-translational modifications that are disrupted by Orf8 expression;these include induced pluripotent stem cell-derived alveolar type 2 cells (iAT2) and cardiomyocytes (iCM) and postmortem patient lung tissue. These findings demonstrate a novel function for the poorly understood SARS-CoV-2 ORF8 encoded protein and a mechanism through which SARS-CoV-2 disrupts host cell epigenetic regulation. Notably, this work provides a potential mechanism for emerging findings from human patients indicating that ORF8 deletion results in less severe illness and describes a potentially druggable pathway that may contribute to the virulence of SARS-CoV-2.

2.
Anal Chem ; 93(38): 13063-13071, 2021 09 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1428693

ABSTRACT

Short of a vaccine, frequent and rapid testing, preferably at home, is the most effective strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Herein, we report on single-stage and two-stage molecular diagnostic tests that can be carried out with simple or no instrumentation. Our single-stage amplification is reverse transcription-loop mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) with custom-designed primers targeting the ORF1ab and the N gene regions of the virus genome. Our new two-stage amplification, dubbed Penn-RAMP, comprises recombinase isothermal amplification (RT-RPA) as its first stage and LAMP as its second stage. We compared various sample preparation strategies aimed at deactivating the virus while preserving its RNA and tested contrived and patient samples, consisting of nasopharyngeal swabs, oropharyngeal swabs, and saliva. Amplicons were detected either in real time with fluorescent intercalating dye or after amplification with the intercalating colorimetric dye LCV, which is insensitive to sample's PH. Our single RT-LAMP tests can be carried out instrumentation-free. To enable concurrent testing of multiple samples, we developed an inexpensive heat block that supports both the single-stage and two-stage amplification. Our RT-LAMP and Penn-RAMP assays have, respectively, analytical sensitivities of 50 and 5 virions/reaction. Both our single- and two-stage assays have successfully detected SARS-CoV-2 in patients with viral loads corresponding to the reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) threshold cycle smaller than 32 while operating with minimally processed samples, without nucleic acid isolation. Penn-RAMP provides a 10-fold better sensitivity than RT-LAMP and does not need thermal cycling like PCR assays. All reagents are amenable to dry, refrigeration-free storage. The SARS-CoV-2 test described herein is suitable for screening at home, at the point of need, and in resource-poor settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , Pandemics , Point-of-Care Systems , RNA, Viral/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity
3.
Genome Biol ; 22(1): 169, 2021 06 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388811

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 has led to a global pandemic, resulting in the need for rapid assays to allow diagnosis and prevention of transmission. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) provides a gold standard assay for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, but instrument costs are high and supply chains are potentially fragile, motivating interest in additional assay methods. Reverse transcription and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) provides an alternative that uses orthogonal and often less expensive reagents without the need for thermocyclers. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA is typically detected using dyes to report bulk amplification of DNA; however, a common artifact is nonspecific DNA amplification, which complicates detection. RESULTS: Here we describe the design and testing of molecular beacons, which allow sequence-specific detection of SARS-CoV-2 genomes with improved discrimination in simple reaction mixtures. To optimize beacons for RT-LAMP, multiple locked nucleic acid monomers were incorporated to elevate melting temperatures. We also show how beacons with different fluorescent labels can allow convenient multiplex detection of several amplicons in "single pot" reactions, including incorporation of a human RNA LAMP-BEAC assay to confirm sample integrity. Comparison of LAMP-BEAC and RT-qPCR on clinical saliva samples showed good concordance between assays. To facilitate implementation, we developed custom polymerases for LAMP-BEAC and inexpensive purification procedures, which also facilitates increasing sensitivity by increasing reaction volumes. CONCLUSIONS: LAMP-BEAC thus provides an affordable and simple SARS-CoV-2 RNA assay suitable for population screening; implementation of the assay has allowed robust screening of thousands of saliva samples per week.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , Nucleic Acid Probes/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Saliva/virology , Sensitivity and Specificity
5.
J Virol ; 95(12)2021 05 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1247318

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious global health threat. The rapid global spread of SARS-CoV-2 highlights an urgent need to develop effective therapeutics for blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection and spread. Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) is a chief element in host antiviral defense pathways. In this study, we examined the impact of the STING signaling pathway on coronavirus infection using the human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43) model. We found that HCoV-OC43 infection did not stimulate the STING signaling pathway, but the activation of STING signaling effectively inhibits HCoV-OC43 infection to a much greater extent than that of type I interferons (IFNs). We also discovered that IRF3, the key STING downstream innate immune effector, is essential for this anticoronavirus activity. In addition, we found that the amidobenzimidazole (ABZI)-based human STING agonist diABZI robustly blocks the infection of not only HCoV-OC43 but also SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, our study identifies the STING signaling pathway as a potential therapeutic target that could be exploited for developing broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics against multiple coronavirus strains in order to face the challenge of future coronavirus outbreaks.IMPORTANCE The highly infectious and lethal SARS-CoV-2 is posing an unprecedented threat to public health. Other coronaviruses are likely to jump from a nonhuman animal to humans in the future. Novel broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics are therefore needed to control known pathogenic coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and its newly mutated variants, as well as future coronavirus outbreaks. STING signaling is a well-established host defense pathway, but its role in coronavirus infection remains unclear. In the present study, we found that activation of the STING signaling pathway robustly inhibits infection of HCoV-OC43 and SARS-CoV-2. These results identified the STING pathway as a novel target for controlling the spread of known pathogenic coronaviruses, as well as emerging coronavirus outbreaks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Coronavirus OC43, Human/metabolism , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Signal Transduction , A549 Cells , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus OC43, Human/genetics , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/genetics , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/metabolism , Membrane Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Membrane Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells
6.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(16)2021 04 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1165017

ABSTRACT

Coronaviruses are adept at evading host antiviral pathways induced by viral double-stranded RNA, including interferon (IFN) signaling, oligoadenylate synthetase-ribonuclease L (OAS-RNase L), and protein kinase R (PKR). While dysregulated or inadequate IFN responses have been associated with severe coronavirus infection, the extent to which the recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 activates or antagonizes these pathways is relatively unknown. We found that SARS-CoV-2 infects patient-derived nasal epithelial cells, present at the initial site of infection; induced pluripotent stem cell-derived alveolar type 2 cells (iAT2), the major cell type infected in the lung; and cardiomyocytes (iCM), consistent with cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19 disease. Robust activation of IFN or OAS-RNase L is not observed in these cell types, whereas PKR activation is evident in iAT2 and iCM. In SARS-CoV-2-infected Calu-3 and A549ACE2 lung-derived cell lines, IFN induction remains relatively weak; however, activation of OAS-RNase L and PKR is observed. This is in contrast to Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV, which effectively inhibits IFN signaling and OAS-RNase L and PKR pathways, but is similar to mutant MERS-CoV lacking innate immune antagonists. Remarkably, OAS-RNase L and PKR are activated in MAVS knockout A549ACE2 cells, demonstrating that SARS-CoV-2 can induce these host antiviral pathways despite minimal IFN production. Moreover, increased replication and cytopathic effect in RNASEL knockout A549ACE2 cells implicates OAS-RNase L in restricting SARS-CoV-2. Finally, while SARS-CoV-2 fails to antagonize these host defense pathways, which contrasts with other coronaviruses, the IFN signaling response is generally weak. These host-virus interactions may contribute to the unique pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Epithelial Cells/immunology , Epithelial Cells/virology , Immunity, Innate , Lung/pathology , Myocytes, Cardiac/immunology , Myocytes, Cardiac/virology , RNA, Double-Stranded/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , A549 Cells , Endoribonucleases/metabolism , Humans , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/immunology , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/physiology , Nose/virology , Virus Replication , eIF-2 Kinase
7.
mBio ; 12(1)2021 01 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1066822

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of the global outbreak of COVID-19. The epidemic accelerated in Philadelphia, PA, in the spring of 2020, with the city experiencing a first peak of infections on 15 April, followed by a decline through midsummer. Here, we investigate spread of the epidemic in the first wave in Philadelphia using full-genome sequencing of 52 SARS-CoV-2 samples obtained from 27 hospitalized patients collected between 30 March and 17 July 2020. Sequences most commonly resembled lineages circulating at earlier times in New York, suggesting transmission primarily from this location, though a minority of Philadelphia genomes matched sequences from other sites, suggesting additional introductions. Multiple genomes showed even closer matches to other Philadelphia isolates, suggestive of ongoing transmission within Philadelphia. We found that all of our isolates contained the D614G substitution in the viral spike and belong to lineages variously designated B.1, Nextstrain clade 20A or 20C, and GISAID clade G or GH. There were no viral sequence polymorphisms detectably associated with disease outcome. For some patients, genome sequences were determined longitudinally or concurrently from multiple body sites. In both cases, some comparisons showed reproducible polymorphisms, suggesting initial seeding with multiple variants and/or accumulation of polymorphisms after infection. These results thus provide data on the sources of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Philadelphia and begin to explore the dynamics within hospitalized patients.IMPORTANCE Understanding how SARS-CoV-2 spreads globally and within infected individuals is critical to the development of mitigation strategies. We found that most lineages in Philadelphia had resembled sequences from New York, suggesting infection primarily but not exclusively from this location. Many genomes had even nearer neighbors within Philadelphia, indicating local spread. Multiple genome sequences were available for some subjects and in a subset of cases could be shown to differ between time points and body sites within an individual, indicating heterogeneous viral populations within individuals and raising questions on the mechanisms responsible. There was no evidence that different lineages were associated with different outcomes in patients, emphasizing the importance of individual-specific vulnerability.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , A549 Cells , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Genome, Viral , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , New York/epidemiology , Philadelphia/epidemiology , Phylogeny , Polymorphism, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
8.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 469, 2021 01 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1039642

ABSTRACT

Antibody cocktails represent a promising approach to prevent SARS-CoV-2 escape. The determinants for selecting antibody combinations and the mechanism that antibody cocktails prevent viral escape remain unclear. We compared the critical residues in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) used by multiple neutralizing antibodies and cocktails and identified a combination of two antibodies CoV2-06 and CoV2-14 for preventing viral escape. The two antibodies simultaneously bind to non-overlapping epitopes and independently compete for receptor binding. SARS-CoV-2 rapidly escapes from individual antibodies by generating resistant mutations in vitro, but it doesn't escape from the cocktail due to stronger mutational constraints on RBD-ACE2 interaction and RBD protein folding requirements. We also identified a conserved neutralizing epitope shared between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV for antibody CoV2-12. Treatments with CoV2-06 and CoV2-14 individually and in combination confer protection in mice. These findings provide insights for rational selection and mechanistic understanding of antibody cocktails as candidates for treating COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/chemistry , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/genetics , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin Fragments/genetics , Immunoglobulin Fragments/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/genetics , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vero Cells
9.
RNA ; 26(12): 1976-1999, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-973202

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus EndoU inhibits dsRNA-activated antiviral responses; however, the physiologic RNA substrates of EndoU are unknown. In this study, we used mouse hepatitis virus (MHV)-infected bone marrow-derived macrophage (BMM) and cyclic phosphate cDNA sequencing to identify the RNA targets of EndoU. EndoU targeted viral RNA, cleaving the 3' side of pyrimidines with a strong preference for U ↓ A and C ↓ A sequences (endoY ↓ A). EndoU-dependent cleavage was detected in every region of MHV RNA, from the 5' NTR to the 3' NTR, including transcriptional regulatory sequences (TRS). Cleavage at two CA dinucleotides immediately adjacent to the MHV poly(A) tail suggests a mechanism to suppress negative-strand RNA synthesis and the accumulation of viral dsRNA. MHV with EndoU (EndoUmut) or 2'-5' phosphodiesterase (PDEmut) mutations provoked the activation of RNase L in BMM, with corresponding cleavage of RNAs by RNase L. The physiologic targets of EndoU are viral RNA templates required for negative-strand RNA synthesis and dsRNA accumulation. Coronavirus EndoU cleaves U ↓ A and C ↓ A sequences (endoY ↓ A) within viral (+) strand RNA to evade dsRNA-activated host responses.


Subject(s)
Murine hepatitis virus/enzymology , RNA/chemistry , Uridylate-Specific Endoribonucleases/metabolism , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Animals , Cells, Cultured , Macrophages/virology , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mutation , Nucleotide Motifs , Protein Binding , RNA/metabolism , Uridylate-Specific Endoribonucleases/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics
10.
J Virol ; 94(21)2020 10 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-878910

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in China at the end of 2019 and has rapidly caused a pandemic, with over 20 million recorded COVID-19 cases in August 2020 (https://covid19.who.int/). There are no FDA-approved antivirals or vaccines for any coronavirus, including SARS-CoV-2. Current treatments for COVID-19 are limited to supportive therapies and off-label use of FDA-approved drugs. Rapid development and human testing of potential antivirals is urgently needed. Numerous drugs are already approved for human use, and subsequently, there is a good understanding of their safety profiles and potential side effects, making them easier to fast-track to clinical studies in COVID-19 patients. Here, we present data on the antiviral activity of 20 FDA-approved drugs against SARS-CoV-2 that also inhibit SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We found that 17 of these inhibit SARS-CoV-2 at non-cytotoxic concentrations. We directly followed up seven of these to demonstrate that all are capable of inhibiting infectious SARS-CoV-2 production. Moreover, we evaluated two of these, chloroquine and chlorpromazine, in vivo using a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV model and found that both drugs protect mice from clinical disease.IMPORTANCE There are no FDA-approved antivirals for any coronavirus, including SARS-CoV-2. Numerous drugs are already approved for human use that may have antiviral activity and therefore could potentially be rapidly repurposed as antivirals. Here, we present data assessing the antiviral activity of 20 FDA-approved drugs against SARS-CoV-2 that also inhibit SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV in vitro We found that 17 of these inhibit SARS-CoV-2, suggesting that they may have pan-anti-coronaviral activity. We directly followed up seven of these and found that they all inhibit infectious-SARS-CoV-2 production. Moreover, we evaluated chloroquine and chlorpromazine in vivo using mouse-adapted SARS-CoV. We found that neither drug inhibited viral replication in the lungs, but both protected against clinical disease.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/drug effects , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , A549 Cells , Animals , COVID-19 , Chloroquine/pharmacology , Chlorpromazine/pharmacology , Drug Approval , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Treatment Outcome , United States , United States Food and Drug Administration , Virus Replication/drug effects
11.
bioRxiv ; 2020 Nov 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-808974

ABSTRACT

Coronaviruses are adept at evading host antiviral pathways induced by viral double-stranded RNA, including interferon (IFN) signaling, oligoadenylate synthetase-ribonuclease L (OAS-RNase L), and protein kinase R (PKR). While dysregulated or inadequate IFN responses have been associated with severe coronavirus infection, the extent to which the recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 activates or antagonizes these pathways is relatively unknown. We found that SARS-CoV-2 infects patient-derived nasal epithelial cells, present at the initial site of infection, induced pluripotent stem cell-derived alveolar type 2 cells (iAT2), the major cell type infected in the lung, and cardiomyocytes (iCM), consistent with cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19 disease. Robust activation of IFN or OAS-RNase L is not observed in these cell types, while PKR activation is evident in iAT2 and iCM. In SARS-CoV-2 infected Calu-3 and A549 ACE2 lung-derived cell lines, IFN induction remains relatively weak; however activation of OAS-RNase L and PKR is observed. This is in contrast to MERS-CoV, which effectively inhibits IFN signaling as well as OAS-RNase L and PKR pathways, but similar to mutant MERS-CoV lacking innate immune antagonists. Remarkably, both OAS-RNase L and PKR are activated in MAVS knockout A549 ACE2 cells, demonstrating that SARS-CoV-2 can induce these host antiviral pathways despite minimal IFN production. Moreover, increased replication and cytopathic effect in RNASEL knockout A549 ACE2 cells implicates OAS-RNase L in restricting SARS-CoV-2. Finally, while SARS-CoV-2 fails to antagonize these host defense pathways, which contrasts with other coronaviruses, the IFN signaling response is generally weak. These host-virus interactions may contribute to the unique pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2. SIGNIFICANCE: SARS-CoV-2 emergence in late 2019 led to the COVID-19 pandemic that has had devastating effects on human health and the economy. Early innate immune responses are essential for protection against virus invasion. While inadequate innate immune responses are associated with severe COVID-19 diseases, understanding of the interaction of SARS-CoV-2 with host antiviral pathways is minimal. We have characterized the innate immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infections in relevant respiratory tract derived cells and cardiomyocytes and found that SARS-CoV-2 activates two antiviral pathways, oligoadenylate synthetase-ribonuclease L (OAS-RNase L), and protein kinase R (PKR), while inducing minimal levels of interferon. This in contrast to MERS-CoV which inhibits all three pathways. Activation of these pathways may contribute to the distinctive pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2.

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