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PLoS Pathog ; 18(6): e1010590, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1892333


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been transmitted across all over the world, in contrast to the limited epidemic of genetically- and virologically-related SARS-CoV. However, the molecular basis explaining the difference in the virological characteristics among SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV has been poorly defined. Here we identified that host sialoglycans play a significant role in the efficient spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection, while this was not the case with SARS-CoV. SARS-CoV-2 infection was significantly inhibited by α2-6-linked sialic acid-containing compounds, but not by α2-3 analog, in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells. The α2-6-linked compound bound to SARS-CoV-2 spike S1 subunit to competitively inhibit SARS-CoV-2 attachment to cells. Enzymatic removal of cell surface sialic acids impaired the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 spike and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and suppressed the efficient spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection over time, in contrast to its least effect on SARS-CoV spread. Our study provides a novel molecular basis of SARS-CoV-2 infection which illustrates the distinctive characteristics from SARS-CoV.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Polysaccharides/metabolism , Protein Binding , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
Front Microbiol ; 12: 651403, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1231355


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused serious public health, social, and economic damage worldwide and effective drugs that prevent or cure COVID-19 are urgently needed. Approved drugs including Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir or Interferon were reported to inhibit the infection or propagation of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), however, their clinical efficacies have not yet been well demonstrated. To identify drugs with higher antiviral potency, we screened approved anti-parasitic/anti-protozoal drugs and identified an anti-malarial drug, Mefloquine, which showed the highest anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity among the tested compounds. Mefloquine showed higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity than Hydroxychloroquine in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 and Calu-3 cells, with IC50 = 1.28 µM, IC90 = 2.31 µM, and IC99 = 4.39 µM in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells. Mefloquine inhibited viral entry after viral attachment to the target cell. Combined treatment with Mefloquine and Nelfinavir, a replication inhibitor, showed synergistic antiviral activity. Our mathematical modeling based on the drug concentration in the lung predicted that Mefloquine administration at a standard treatment dosage could decline viral dynamics in patients, reduce cumulative viral load to 7% and shorten the time until virus elimination by 6.1 days. These data cumulatively underscore Mefloquine as an anti-SARS-CoV-2 entry inhibitor.

iScience ; 24(4): 102367, 2021 Apr 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1157438


Antiviral treatments targeting the coronavirus disease 2019 are urgently required. We screened a panel of already approved drugs in a cell culture model of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and identified two new agents having higher antiviral potentials than the drug candidates such as remdesivir and chroloquine in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells: the anti-inflammatory drug cepharanthine and human immunodeficiency virus protease inhibitor nelfinavir. Cepharanthine inhibited SARS-CoV-2 entry through the blocking of viral binding to target cells, while nelfinavir suppressed viral replication partly by protease inhibition. Consistent with their different modes of action, synergistic effect of this combined treatment to limit SARS-CoV-2 proliferation was highlighted. Mathematical modeling in vitro antiviral activity coupled with the calculated total drug concentrations in the lung predicts that nelfinavir will shorten the period until viral clearance by 4.9 days and the combining cepharanthine/nelfinavir enhanced their predicted efficacy. These results warrant further evaluation of the potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of cepharanthine and nelfinavir.

Int J Mol Sci ; 22(6)2021 Mar 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1143519


The development of effective antiviral drugs targeting the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is urgently needed to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We have previously studied the use of semi-synthetic derivatives of oxysterols, oxidized derivatives of cholesterol as drug candidates for the inhibition of cancer, fibrosis, and bone regeneration. In this study, we screened a panel of naturally occurring and semi-synthetic oxysterols for anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity using a cell culture infection assay. We show that the natural oxysterols, 7-ketocholesterol, 22(R)-hydroxycholesterol, 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol, and 27-hydroxycholesterol, substantially inhibited SARS-CoV-2 propagation in cultured cells. Among semi-synthetic oxysterols, Oxy210 and Oxy232 displayed more robust anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities, reducing viral replication more than 90% at 10 µM and 99% at 15 µM, respectively. When orally administered in mice, peak plasma concentrations of Oxy210 fell into a therapeutically relevant range (19 µM), based on the dose-dependent curve for antiviral activity in our cell-based assay. Mechanistic studies suggest that Oxy210 reduced replication of SARS-CoV-2 by disrupting the formation of double-membrane vesicles (DMVs); intracellular membrane compartments associated with viral replication. Our study warrants further evaluation of Oxy210 and Oxy232 as a safe and reliable oral medication, which could help protect vulnerable populations with increased risk of developing COVID-19.

Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Oxysterols/chemistry , Oxysterols/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Administration, Oral , Animals , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , Antiviral Agents/pharmacokinetics , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cell Survival/drug effects , Chlorocebus aethiops , Mice , Nucleocapsid Proteins/drug effects , Oxysterols/administration & dosage , Oxysterols/pharmacokinetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells , Viral Replication Compartments/drug effects , Virus Replication/drug effects