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1.
Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) ; 2021 Dec 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581938

ABSTRACT

Mass spectrometry is a powerful methodology for chemical screening to directly quantify substrates and products of enzymes, but its low throughput has been an issue. Recently, an acoustic liquid-handling apparatus (Echo®) used for rapid nano-dispensing has been coupled to a high-sensitivity mass spectrometer to create the Echo® MS system, and we applied this system to screening of SARS-CoV-2 3CL protease inhibitors. Primary screening of 32,033 chemical samples was completed in 12 hours. Among the hits showing selective, dose-dependent 3CL-inhibitory activity, 8 compounds showed antiviral activity in cell-based assay.

2.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 6602, 2021 11 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1517625

ABSTRACT

The MHC class I-mediated antigen presentation pathway plays a critical role in antiviral immunity. Here we show that the MHC class I pathway is targeted by SARS-CoV-2. Analysis of the gene expression profile from COVID-19 patients as well as SARS-CoV-2 infected epithelial cell lines reveals that the induction of the MHC class I pathway is inhibited by SARS-CoV-2 infection. We show that NLRC5, an MHC class I transactivator, is suppressed both transcriptionally and functionally by the SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 protein, providing a mechanistic link. SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 hampers type II interferon-mediated STAT1 signaling, resulting in diminished upregulation of NLRC5 and IRF1 gene expression. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 inhibits NLRC5 function via blocking karyopherin complex-dependent nuclear import of NLRC5. Collectively, our study uncovers an immune evasion mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 that targets the function of key MHC class I transcriptional regulators, STAT1-IRF1-NLRC5.

3.
Viruses ; 13(11)2021 10 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1481022

ABSTRACT

Systemic symptoms have often been observed in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in addition to pneumonia, however, the details are still unclear due to the lack of an appropriate animal model. In this study, we investigated and compared blood coagulation abnormalities and tissue damage between male Syrian hamsters of 9 (young) and over 36 (aged) weeks old after intranasal infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Despite similar levels of viral replication and inflammatory responses in the lungs of both age groups, aged but not young hamsters showed significant prolongation of prothrombin time and prominent acute kidney damage. Moreover, aged hamsters demonstrated increased intravascular coagulation time-dependently in the lungs, suggesting that consumption of coagulation factors causes prothrombin time prolongation. Furthermore, proximal urinary tract damage and mesangial matrix expansion were observed in the kidneys of the aged hamsters at early and later disease stages, respectively. Given that the severity and mortality of COVID-19 are higher in elderly human patients, the effect of aging on pathogenesis needs to be understood and should be considered for the selection of animal models. We, thus, propose that the aged hamster is a good small animal model for COVID-19 research.

4.
iScience ; 24(10): 103120, 2021 Oct 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1401549

ABSTRACT

Newly emerging or re-emerging viral infections continue to cause significant morbidity and mortality every year worldwide, resulting in serious effects on both health and the global economy. Despite significant drug discovery research against dengue viruses (DENVs) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), no fully effective and specific drugs directed against these viruses have been discovered. Here, we examined the anti-DENV activity of tubercidin derivatives from a compound library from Hokkaido University and demonstrated that 5-hydroxymethyltubercidin (HMTU, HUP1108) possessed both potent anti-flavivirus and anti-coronavirus activities at submicromolar levels without significant cytotoxicity. Furthermore, HMTU inhibited viral RNA replication and specifically inhibited replication at the late stages of the SARS-CoV-2 infection process. Finally, we demonstrated that HMTU 5'-triphosphate inhibited RNA extension catalyzed by the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Our findings suggest that HMTU has the potential of serving as a lead compound for the development of a broad spectrum of antiviral agents, including SARS-CoV-2.

5.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun ; 577: 146-151, 2021 11 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1401239

ABSTRACT

The human lung cell A549 is susceptible to infection with a number of respiratory viruses. However, A549 cells are resistant to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in conventional submerged culture, and this would appear to be due to low expression levels of the SARS-CoV-2 entry receptor: angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2). Here, we examined SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility to A549 cells after adaptation to air-liquid interface (ALI) culture. A549 cells in ALI culture yielded a layer of mucus on their apical surface, exhibited decreased expression levels of the proliferation marker KI-67 and intriguingly became susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. We found that A549 cells increased the endogenous expression levels of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 following adaptation to ALI culture conditions. Camostat, a TMPRSS2 inhibitor, reduced SARS-CoV-2 infection in ALI-cultured A549 cells. These findings indicate that ALI culture switches the phenotype of A549 cells from resistance to susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection through upregulation of ACE2 and TMPRSS2.


Subject(s)
Alveolar Epithelial Cells/virology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Culture Techniques/methods , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , A549 Cells , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/pathology , Cells, Cultured , Disease Susceptibility , Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic , Humans , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Up-Regulation/genetics
6.
mBio ; 12(4): e0141521, 2021 08 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1370889

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) possesses a discriminative polybasic cleavage motif in its spike protein that is recognized by the host furin protease. Proteolytic cleavage activates the spike protein, thereby affecting both the cellular entry pathway and cell tropism of SARS-CoV-2. Here, we investigated the impact of the furin cleavage site on viral growth and pathogenesis using a hamster animal model infected with SARS-CoV-2 variants bearing mutations at the furin cleavage site (S gene mutants). In the airway tissues of hamsters, the S gene mutants exhibited low growth properties. In contrast to parental pathogenic SARS-CoV-2, hamsters infected with the S gene mutants showed no body weight loss and only a mild inflammatory response, thereby indicating the attenuated variant nature of S gene mutants. This transient infection was sufficient for inducing protective neutralizing antibodies that cross-react with different SARS-CoV-2 lineages. Consequently, hamsters inoculated with S gene mutants showed resistance to subsequent infection with both the parental strain and the currently emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants belonging to lineages B.1.1.7 and P.1. Taken together, our findings revealed that the loss of the furin cleavage site causes attenuation in the airway tissues of hamsters and highlighted the potential benefits of S gene mutants as potential immunogens. IMPORTANCE SARS-CoV-2 uses its spike protein to enter target cells. The spike protein is cleaved by a host protease, and this event facilitates viral entry and broadens cell tropism. In this study, we employed SARS-CoV-2 mutants lacking the S protein cleavage site and characterized their growth and pathogenicity using hamsters, a laboratory animal model for SARS-CoV-2 infection. These mutants exerted low pathogenicity but induced sufficient levels of neutralizing antibodies in hamsters, which protected hamsters from rechallenge with pathogenic clinical SARS-CoV-2 strains. These virus mutants may be used as protective immunogens against SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/pathology , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Animals , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cross Reactions/immunology , Furin/metabolism , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Vaccines, Attenuated/immunology , Vero Cells , Virulence/genetics
7.
Immunity ; 54(10): 2385-2398.e10, 2021 10 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1370548

ABSTRACT

Potent neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 antibodies often target the spike protein receptor-binding site (RBS), but the variability of RBS epitopes hampers broad neutralization of multiple sarbecoviruses and drifted viruses. Here, using humanized mice, we identified an RBS antibody with a germline VH gene that potently neutralized SARS-related coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 variants. X-ray crystallography revealed coordinated recognition by the heavy chain of non-RBS conserved sites and the light chain of RBS with a binding angle mimicking the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. The minimum footprints in the hypervariable region of RBS contributed to the breadth of neutralization, which was enhanced by immunoglobulin G3 (IgG3) class switching. The coordinated binding resulted in broad neutralization of SARS-CoV and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Low-dose therapeutic antibody treatment in hamsters reduced the virus titers and morbidity during SARS-CoV-2 challenge. The structural basis for broad neutralizing activity may inform the design of a broad spectrum of therapeutics and vaccines.


Subject(s)
Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/immunology , Cross Reactions/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Binding Sites, Antibody , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/chemistry , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/therapeutic use , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/therapy , COVID-19/virology , Cricetinae , Humans , Immunoglobulin Class Switching , Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments/chemistry , Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments/metabolism , Immunoglobulin G/chemistry , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Mice , Protein Domains , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
8.
Nat Immunol ; 22(7): 820-828, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1225511

ABSTRACT

Efficient immune responses against viral infection are determined by sufficient activation of nucleic acid sensor-mediated innate immunity1,2. Coronavirus disease 2019, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), remains an ongoing global pandemic. It is an urgent challenge to clarify the innate recognition mechanism to control this virus. Here we show that retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I) sufficiently restrains SARS-CoV-2 replication in human lung cells in a type I/III interferon (IFN)-independent manner. RIG-I recognizes the 3' untranslated region of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome via the helicase domains, but not the C-terminal domain. This new mode of RIG-I recognition does not stimulate its ATPase, thereby aborting the activation of the conventional mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein-dependent pathways, which is in accordance with lack of cytokine induction. Nevertheless, the interaction of RIG-I with the viral genome directly abrogates viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase mediation of the first step of replication. Consistently, genetic ablation of RIG-I allows lung cells to produce viral particles that expressed the viral spike protein. By contrast, the anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity was restored by all-trans retinoic acid treatment through upregulation of RIG-I protein expression in primary lung cells derived from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thus, our findings demonstrate the distinctive role of RIG-I as a restraining factor in the early phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung cells.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , DEAD Box Protein 58/immunology , Lung/immunology , Receptors, Immunologic/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , A549 Cells , Animals , Cell Line , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Dogs , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Interferon Type I/immunology , Interferons/immunology , Lung/virology , Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells , Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive/immunology , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/immunology , Sf9 Cells , Signal Transduction/immunology , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/immunology
9.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 5376, 2021 03 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1123150

ABSTRACT

Although the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in a worldwide pandemic, there are currently no virus-specific drugs that are fully effective against SARS-CoV-2. Only a limited number of human-derived cells are capable of supporting SARS-CoV-2 replication and the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 in these cells remains poor. In contrast, monkey-derived Vero cells are highly susceptibility to infection with SARS-CoV-2, although they are not suitable for the study of antiviral effects by small molecules due to their limited capacity to metabolize drugs compared to human-derived cells. In this study, our goal was to generate a virus-susceptible human cell line that would be useful for the identification and testing of candidate drugs. Towards this end, we stably transfected human lung-derived MRC5 cells with a lentiviral vector encoding angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the cellular receptor for SARS-CoV-2. Our results revealed that SARS-CoV-2 replicates efficiently in MRC5/ACE2 cells. Furthermore, viral RNA replication and progeny virus production were significantly reduced in response to administration of the replication inhibitor, remdesivir, in MRC5/ACE2 cells compared with Vero cells. We conclude that the MRC5/ACE2 cells will be important in developing specific anti-viral therapeutics and will assist in vaccine development to combat SARS-CoV-2 infections.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cell Engineering , Drug Discovery , Models, Biological , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Animals , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cell Line , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Viral Proteins/biosynthesis , Virus Replication/drug effects
10.
Viruses ; 13(3)2021 02 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1122331

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) utilizes host proteases, including a plasma membrane-associated transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2) to cleave and activate the virus spike protein to facilitate cellular entry. Although TMPRSS2 is a well-characterized type II transmembrane serine protease (TTSP), the role of other TTSPs on the replication of SARS-CoV-2 remains to be elucidated. Here, we have screened 12 TTSPs using human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2-expressing HEK293T (293T-ACE2) cells and Vero E6 cells and demonstrated that exogenous expression of TMPRSS11D and TMPRSS13 enhanced cellular uptake and subsequent replication of SARS-CoV-2. In addition, SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 share the same TTSPs in the viral entry process. Our study demonstrates the impact of host TTSPs on infection of SARS-CoV-2, which may have implications for cell and tissue tropism, for pathogenicity, and potentially for vaccine development.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Serine Proteases/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Vero Cells , Virus Internalization
11.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(1): e1009233, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1040062

ABSTRACT

The spike (S) protein of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) binds to a host cell receptor which facilitates viral entry. A polybasic motif detected at the cleavage site of the S protein has been shown to broaden the cell tropism and transmissibility of the virus. Here we examine the properties of SARS-CoV-2 variants with mutations at the S protein cleavage site that undergo inefficient proteolytic cleavage. Virus variants with S gene mutations generated smaller plaques and exhibited a more limited range of cell tropism compared to the wild-type strain. These alterations were shown to result from their inability to utilize the entry pathway involving direct fusion mediated by the host type II transmembrane serine protease, TMPRSS2. Notably, viruses with S gene mutations emerged rapidly and became the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variants in TMPRSS2-deficient cells including Vero cells. Our study demonstrated that the S protein polybasic cleavage motif is a critical factor underlying SARS-CoV-2 entry and cell tropism. As such, researchers should be alert to the possibility of de novo S gene mutations emerging in tissue-culture propagated virus strains.


Subject(s)
SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/deficiency , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Caco-2 Cells , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Sequence Alignment , Serial Passage , Vero Cells , Viral Tropism
12.
Int J Infect Dis ; 102: 455-459, 2021 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-816545

ABSTRACT

Since its first discovery in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has spread rapidly worldwide. While African countries were relatively spared initially, the initial low incidence of COVID-19 cases was not sustained for long due to continuing travel links between China, Europe and Africa. In preparation, Zambia had applied a multisectoral national epidemic disease surveillance and response system resulting in the identification of the first case within 48 h of the individual entering the country by air travel from a trip to France. Contact tracing showed that SARS-CoV-2 infection was contained within the patient's household, with no further spread to attending health care workers or community members. Phylogenomic analysis of the patient's SARS-CoV-2 strain showed that it belonged to lineage B.1.1., sharing the last common ancestor with SARS-CoV-2 strains recovered from South Africa. At the African continental level, our analysis showed that B.1 and B.1.1 lineages appear to be predominant in Africa. Whole genome sequence analysis should be part of all surveillance and case detection activities in order to monitor the origin and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 lineages across Africa.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Genome, Viral , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adult , Africa , Humans , Male , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Travel , Zambia
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