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1.
Science ; 377(6604): 428-433, 2022 07 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1901908

ABSTRACT

The in vivo pathogenicity, transmissibility, and fitness of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant are not well understood. We compared these virological attributes of this new variant of concern (VOC) with those of the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant in a Syrian hamster model of COVID-19. Omicron-infected hamsters lost significantly less body weight and exhibited reduced clinical scores, respiratory tract viral burdens, cytokine and chemokine dysregulation, and lung damage than Delta-infected hamsters. Both variants were highly transmissible through contact transmission. In noncontact transmission studies Omicron demonstrated similar or higher transmissibility than Delta. Delta outcompeted Omicron without selection pressure, but this scenario changed once immune selection pressure with neutralizing antibodies-active against Delta but poorly active against Omicron-was introduced. Next-generation vaccines and antivirals effective against this new VOC are therefore urgently needed.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , COVID-19/transmission , Disease Models, Animal , Mesocricetus , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Virulence
2.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3589, 2022 06 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1900488

ABSTRACT

The strikingly high transmissibility and antibody evasion of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variants have posed great challenges to the efficacy of current vaccines and antibody immunotherapy. Here, we screen 34 BNT162b2-vaccinees and isolate a public broadly neutralizing antibody ZCB11 derived from the IGHV1-58 family. ZCB11 targets viral receptor-binding domain specifically and neutralizes all SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, especially with great potency against authentic Omicron and Delta variants. Pseudovirus-based mapping of 57 naturally occurred spike mutations or deletions reveals that S371L results in 11-fold neutralization resistance, but it is rescued by compensating mutations in Omicron variants. Cryo-EM analysis demonstrates that ZCB11 heavy chain predominantly interacts with Omicron spike trimer with receptor-binding domain in up conformation blocking ACE2 binding. In addition, prophylactic or therapeutic ZCB11 administration protects lung infection against Omicron viral challenge in golden Syrian hamsters. These results suggest that vaccine-induced ZCB11 is a promising broadly neutralizing antibody for biomedical interventions against pandemic SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies , COVID-19 , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , BNT162 Vaccine , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cricetinae , Humans , Mesocricetus , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2021 Dec 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1852987

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, designated as a Variant of Concern(VOC) by the World Health Organization, carries numerous spike mutations which have are known to evade neutralizing antibodies elicited by COVID-19 vaccines. A deeper understanding of the susceptibility of Omicron variant to vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies is urgently needed for risk assessment. METHODS: Omicron variant strains HKU691 and HKU344-R346K were isolated from patients using TMPRSS2-overexpressing VeroE6 cells. Whole genome sequence was determined using nanopore sequencing. Neutralization susceptibility of ancestral lineage A virus and the Omicron, Delta and Beta variants to sera from 25 BNT162b2 and 25 Coronavac vaccine recipients was determined using a live virus microneutralization assay. RESULTS: The Omicron variant strain HKU344-R346K has an additional spike R346K mutation, which is present in 8.5% of strains deposited in GISAID database. Only 20% and 24% of BNT162b2 recipients had detectable neutralizing antibody against the Omicron variant HKU691 and HKU344-R346K, respectively, while none of the Coronavac recipients had detectable neutralizing antibody titer against either Omicron isolate. For BNT162b2 recipients, the geometric mean neutralization antibody titers(GMT) of the Omicron variant isolates(5.43 and 6.42) were 35.7-39.9-fold lower than that of the ancestral virus(229.4), and the GMT of both Omicron variant isolates were significantly lower than those of the Beta and Delta variants. There was no significant difference in the GMT between HKU691 and HKU344-R346K. CONCLUSIONS: Omicron variant escapes neutralizing antibodies elicited by BNT162b2 or Coronavac. The additional R346K mutation did not affect the neutralization susceptibility. Our data suggest that the Omicron variant may be associated with lower COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness.

4.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 2028, 2022 04 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1805608

ABSTRACT

Dysfunctional immune responses contribute critically to the progression of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19), with macrophages as one of the main cell types involved. It is urgent to understand the interactions among permissive cells, macrophages, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thereby offering important insights into effective therapeutic strategies. Here, we establish a lung and macrophage co-culture system derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), modeling the host-pathogen interaction in SARS-CoV-2 infection. We find that both classically polarized macrophages (M1) and alternatively polarized macrophages (M2) have inhibitory effects on SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, M1 and non-activated (M0) macrophages, but not M2 macrophages, significantly up-regulate inflammatory factors upon viral infection. Moreover, M1 macrophages suppress the growth and enhance apoptosis of lung cells. Inhibition of viral entry using an ACE2 blocking antibody substantially enhances the activity of M2 macrophages. Our studies indicate differential immune response patterns in distinct macrophage phenotypes, which could lead to a range of COVID-19 disease severity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pluripotent Stem Cells , Humans , Lung , Macrophages , SARS-CoV-2
5.
EBioMedicine ; 75: 103762, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1587929

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Vaccines in emergency use are efficacious against COVID-19, yet vaccine-induced prevention against nasal SARS-CoV-2 infection remains suboptimal. METHODS: Since mucosal immunity is critical for nasal prevention, we investigated the efficacy of an intramuscular PD1-based receptor-binding domain (RBD) DNA vaccine (PD1-RBD-DNA) and intranasal live attenuated influenza-based vaccines (LAIV-CA4-RBD and LAIV-HK68-RBD) against SARS-CoV-2. FINDINGS: Substantially higher systemic and mucosal immune responses, including bronchoalveolar lavage IgA/IgG and lung polyfunctional memory CD8 T cells, were induced by the heterologous PD1-RBD-DNA/LAIV-HK68-RBD as compared with other regimens. When vaccinated animals were challenged at the memory phase, prevention of robust SARS-CoV-2 infection in nasal turbinate was achieved primarily by the heterologous regimen besides consistent protection in lungs. The regimen-induced antibodies cross-neutralized variants of concerns. Furthermore, LAIV-CA4-RBD could boost the BioNTech vaccine for improved mucosal immunity. INTERPRETATION: Our results demonstrated that intranasal influenza-based boost vaccination induces mucosal and systemic immunity for effective SARS-CoV-2 prevention in both upper and lower respiratory systems. FUNDING: This study was supported by the Research Grants Council Collaborative Research Fund, General Research Fund and Health and Medical Research Fund in Hong Kong; Outbreak Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; Shenzhen Science and Technology Program and matching fund from Shenzhen Immuno Cure BioTech Limited; the Health@InnoHK, Innovation and Technology Commission of Hong Kong; National Program on Key Research Project of China; donations from the Friends of Hope Education Fund; the Theme-Based Research Scheme.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunization, Secondary , Influenza Vaccines , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccines, DNA , Administration, Intranasal , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/genetics , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Disease Models, Animal , Dogs , Female , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunity, Mucosal , Influenza Vaccines/genetics , Influenza Vaccines/immunology , Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vaccines, Attenuated/genetics , Vaccines, Attenuated/immunology , Vaccines, DNA/genetics , Vaccines, DNA/immunology , Vero Cells
6.
Commun Biol ; 4(1): 1102, 2021 09 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1428909

ABSTRACT

Emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been shown to rapidly replace original circulating strains in humans soon after they emerged. There is a lack of experimental evidence to explain how these natural occurring variants spread more efficiently than existing strains of SARS-CoV-2 in transmission. We found that the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) increased competitive fitness over earlier parental D614G lineages in in-vitro and in-vivo systems. Using hamster transmission model, we further demonstrated that the Alpha variant is able to replicate and shed more efficiently in the nasal cavity of hamsters than other variants with low dose and short duration of exposure. The capability to initiate effective infection with low inocula may be one of the key factors leading to the rapid transmission of emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Replication/genetics , Animals , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/transmission , Cell Line/virology , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
7.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 2790, 2021 05 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387341

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is of zoonotic origin and contains a PRRA polybasic cleavage motif which is considered critical for efficient infection and transmission in humans. We previously reported on a panel of attenuated SARS-CoV-2 variants with deletions at the S1/S2 junction of the spike protein. Here, we characterize pathogenicity, immunogenicity, and protective ability of a further cell-adapted SARS-CoV-2 variant, Ca-DelMut, in in vitro and in vivo systems. Ca-DelMut replicates more efficiently than wild type or parental virus in Vero E6 cells, but causes no apparent disease in hamsters, despite replicating in respiratory tissues. Unlike wild type virus, Ca-DelMut causes no obvious pathological changes and does not induce elevation of proinflammatory cytokines, but still triggers a strong neutralizing antibody and T cell response in hamsters and mice. Ca-DelMut immunized hamsters challenged with wild type SARS-CoV-2 are fully protected, with little sign of virus replication in the upper or lower respiratory tract, demonstrating sterilizing immunity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Virus Replication/genetics , Animals , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cricetinae , Cytokines/immunology , Cytokines/metabolism , Female , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Male , Mesocricetus , Mice, Inbred BALB C , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , Vero Cells , Virulence/genetics , Virulence/immunology
8.
EBioMedicine ; 71: 103544, 2021 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1363987

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Several SARS-CoV-2 lineages with spike receptor binding domain (RBD) N501Y mutation have spread globally. We evaluated the impact of N501Y on neutralizing activity of COVID-19 convalescent sera and on anti-RBD IgG assays. METHODS: The susceptibility to neutralization by COVID-19 patients' convalescent sera from Hong Kong were compared between two SARS-CoV-2 isolates (B117-1/B117-2) from the α variant with N501Y and 4 non-N501Y isolates. The effect of N501Y on antibody binding was assessed. The performance of commercially-available IgG assays was determined for patients infected with N501Y variants. FINDINGS: The microneutralization antibody (MN) titers of convalescent sera from 9 recovered COVID-19 patients against B117-1 (geometric mean titer[GMT],80; 95% CI, 47-136) were similar to those against the non-N501Y viruses. However, MN titer of these serum against B117-2 (GMT, 20; 95% CI, 11-36) was statistically significantly reduced when compared with non-N501Y viruses (P < 0.01; one-way ANOVA). The difference between B117-1 and B117-2 was confirmed by testing 60 additional convalescent sera. B117-1 and B117-2 differ by only 3 amino acids (nsp2-S512Y, nsp13-K460R, spike-A1056V). Enzyme immunoassay using 272 convalescent sera showed reduced binding of anti-RBD IgG to N501Y or N501Y-E484K-K417N when compared with that of wild-type RBD (mean difference: 0.1116 and 0.5613, respectively; one-way ANOVA). Of 7 anti-N-IgG positive sera from patients infected with N501Y variants (collected 9-14 days post symptom onset), 6 (85.7%) tested negative for a commercially-available anti-S1-IgG assay. FUNDING: Richard and Carol Yu, Michael Tong, and the Government Consultancy Service (see acknowledgments for full list). INTERPRETATION: We highlighted the importance of using a panel of viruses within the same lineage to determine the impact of virus variants on neutralization. Furthermore, clinicians should be aware of the potential reduced sensitivity of anti-RBD IgG assays.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Viral/ultrastructure , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Female , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Male , Middle Aged , Mutation/genetics , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
9.
Clin Infect Dis ; 73(2): e437-e444, 2021 07 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1315658

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) contains the furin cleavage Proline-Arginine-Arginine-Alanine (PRRA) motif in the S1/S2 region, which enhances viral pathogenicity but is absent in closely related bat and pangolin coronaviruses. Whether bat-like coronaviral variants without PRRA (∆PRRA) can establish natural infections in humans is unknown. METHODS: Here, we developed a duplex digital polymerase chain reaction assay to examine ∆PRRA variants in Vero-E6-propagated isolates, human organoids, experimentally infected hamsters, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. RESULTS: We found that SARS-CoV-2, as currently transmitting in humans, contained a quasispecies of wild-type, ∆PRRA variants and variants that have mutations upstream of the PRRA motif. Moreover, the ∆PRRA variants were readily detected despite being at a low intra-host frequency in transmitted founder viruses in hamsters and in COVID-19 patients, including in acute cases and a family cluster, with a prevalence rate of 52.9%. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that bat-like SARS-CoV-2ΔPRRA not only naturally exists but remains transmissible in COVID-19 patients, which has significant implications regarding the zoonotic origin and natural evolution of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Chiroptera , Alanine , Animals , Arginine , Humans , Proline , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
10.
Cells ; 10(7)2021 07 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1308302

ABSTRACT

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are critical regulators of gene expression that may be used to identify the pathological pathways influenced by disease and cellular interactions. Viral miRNAs (v-miRNAs) encoded by both DNA and RNA viruses induce immune dysregulation, virus production, and disease pathogenesis. Given the absence of effective treatment and the prevalence of highly infective SARS-CoV-2 strains, improved understanding of viral-associated miRNAs could provide novel mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of COVID-19. In this study, SARS-CoV-2 v-miRNAs were identified by deep sequencing in infected Calu-3 and Vero E6 cell lines. Among the ~0.1% small RNA sequences mapped to the SARS-CoV-2 genome, the top ten SARS-CoV-2 v-miRNAs (including three encoded by the N gene; v-miRNA-N) were selected. After initial screening of conserved v-miRNA-N-28612, which was identified in both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, its expression was shown to be positively associated with viral load in COVID-19 patients. Further in silico analysis and synthetic-mimic transfection of validated SARS-CoV-2 v-miRNAs revealed novel functional targets and associations with mechanisms of cellular metabolism and biosynthesis. Our findings support the development of v-miRNA-based biomarkers and therapeutic strategies based on improved understanding of the pathophysiology of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Metabolic Networks and Pathways , MicroRNAs/genetics , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Phosphoproteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells
11.
Cell ; 184(10): 2618-2632.e17, 2021 05 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1157174

ABSTRACT

The ongoing pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently affecting millions of lives worldwide. Large retrospective studies indicate that an elevated level of inflammatory cytokines and pro-inflammatory factors are associated with both increased disease severity and mortality. Here, using multidimensional epigenetic, transcriptional, in vitro, and in vivo analyses, we report that topoisomerase 1 (TOP1) inhibition suppresses lethal inflammation induced by SARS-CoV-2. Therapeutic treatment with two doses of topotecan (TPT), an FDA-approved TOP1 inhibitor, suppresses infection-induced inflammation in hamsters. TPT treatment as late as 4 days post-infection reduces morbidity and rescues mortality in a transgenic mouse model. These results support the potential of TOP1 inhibition as an effective host-directed therapy against severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. TPT and its derivatives are inexpensive clinical-grade inhibitors available in most countries. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy of repurposing TOP1 inhibitors for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in humans.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , DNA Topoisomerases, Type I/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Topoisomerase I Inhibitors/pharmacology , Topotecan/pharmacology , Animals , COVID-19/enzymology , COVID-19/pathology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Inflammation/drug therapy , Inflammation/enzymology , Inflammation/pathology , Inflammation/virology , Mesocricetus , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , THP-1 Cells , Vero Cells
12.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 9(1): 837-842, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-72297

ABSTRACT

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has led to the current global coronavirus pandemic and more than one million infections since December 2019. The exact origin of SARS-CoV-2 remains elusive, but the presence of a distinct motif in the S1/S2 junction region suggests the possible acquisition of cleavage site(s) in the spike protein that promoted cross-species transmission. Through plaque purification of Vero-E6 cultured SARS-CoV-2, we found a series of variants which contain 15-30-bp deletions (Del-mut) or point mutations respectively at the S1/S2 junction. Examination of the original clinical specimen from which the isolate was derived, and 26 additional SARS-CoV-2 positive clinical specimens, failed to detect these variants. Infection of hamsters shows that one of the variants (Del-mut-1) which carries deletion of 10 amino acids (30bp) does not cause the body weight loss or more severe pathological changes in the lungs that is associated with wild type virus infection. We suggest that the unique cleavage motif promoting SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans may be under strong selective pressure, given that replication in permissive Vero-E6 cells leads to the loss of this adaptive function. It would be important to screen the prevalence of these variants in asymptomatic infected cases. The potential of the Del-mut variants as an attenuated vaccine or laboratory tool should be evaluated.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Disease Models, Animal , Mesocricetus , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS Virus/pathogenicity , Sequence Deletion , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Base Sequence , COVID-19 , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Female , Host Specificity , Humans , Lung/pathology , Male , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS Virus/growth & development , SARS Virus/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Vero Cells , Virulence
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