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Sci Rep ; 12(1): 18500, 2022 Nov 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2096797


The nucleocapsid (N) protein plays critical roles in coronavirus genome transcription and packaging, representing a key target for the development of novel antivirals, and for which structural information on ligand binding is scarce. We used a novel fluorescence polarization assay to identify small molecules that disrupt the binding of the N protein to a target RNA derived from the SARS-CoV-2 genome packaging signal. Several phenolic compounds, including L-chicoric acid (CA), were identified as high-affinity N-protein ligands. The binding of CA to the N protein was confirmed by isothermal titration calorimetry, 1H-STD and 15N-HSQC NMR, and by the crystal structure of CA bound to the N protein C-terminal domain (CTD), further revealing a new modulatory site in the SARS-CoV-2 N protein. Moreover, CA reduced SARS-CoV-2 replication in cell cultures. These data thus open venues for the development of new antivirals targeting the N protein, an essential and yet underexplored coronavirus target.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Ligands , Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , RNA/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Protein Binding
Photodiagnosis Photodyn Ther ; 39: 103015, 2022 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1937066


Ultraviolet (UV) light can inactivate SARS-CoV-2. However, the practicality of UV light is limited by the carcinogenic potential of mercury vapor-based UV lamps. Recent advances in the development of krypton chlorine (KrCl) excimer lamps hold promise, as these emit a shorter peak wavelength (222 nm), which is highly absorbed by the skin's stratum corneum and can filter out higher wavelengths. In this sense, UV 222 nm irradiation for the inactivation of virus particles in the air and surfaces is a potentially safer option as a germicidal technology. However, these same physical properties make it harder to reach microbes present in complex solutions, such as saliva, a critical source of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. We provide the first evaluation for using a commercial filtered KrCl excimer light source to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in saliva spread on a surface. A conventional germicidal lamp (UV 254 nm) was also evaluated under the same condition. Using plaque-forming units (PFU) and Median Tissue Culture Infectious Dose (TCID50) per milliliter we found that 99.99% viral clearance (LD99.99) was obtained with 106.3 mJ/cm2 of UV 222 nm for virus in DMEM and 2417 mJ/cm2 for virus in saliva. Additionally, our results showed that the UV 254 nm had a greater capacity to inactivate the virus in both vehicles. Effective (after discounting light absorption) LD99.99 of UV 222 nm on the virus in saliva was ∼30 times higher than the value obtained with virus in saline solution (PBS), we speculated that saliva might be protecting the virus from surface irradiation in ways other than just by intensity attenuation of UV 222 nm. Due to differences between UV 222/254 nm capacities to interact and be absorbed by molecules in complex solutions, a higher dose of 222 nm will be necessary to reduce viral load in surfaces with contaminated saliva.

COVID-19 , Photochemotherapy , Disinfection/methods , Humans , Photochemotherapy/methods , SARS-CoV-2 , Saliva , Ultraviolet Rays
Virulence ; 13(1): 1031-1048, 2022 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1900978


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant loss of human lives and a worldwide decline in quality of life. Treatment of COVID-19 patients is challenging, and specific treatments to reduce COVID-19 aggravation and mortality are still necessary. Here, we describe the discovery of a novel class of epiandrosterone steroidal compounds with cationic amphiphilic properties that present antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 in the low micromolar range. Compounds were identified in screening campaigns using a cytopathic effect-based assay in Vero CCL81 cells, followed by hit compound validation and characterization. Compounds LNB167 and LNB169 were selected due to their ability to reduce the levels of infectious viral progeny and viral RNA levels in Vero CCL81, HEK293, and HuH7.5 cell lines. Mechanistic studies in Vero CCL81 cells indicated that LNB167 and LNB169 inhibited the initial phase of viral replication through mechanisms involving modulation of membrane lipids and cholesterol in host cells. Selection of viral variants resistant to steroidal compound treatment revealed single mutations on transmembrane, lipid membrane-interacting Spike and Envelope proteins. Finally, in vivo testing using the hACE2 transgenic mouse model indicated that SARS-CoV-2 infection could not be ameliorated by LNB167 treatment. We conclude that anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities of steroidal compounds LNB167 and LNB169 are likely host-targeted, consistent with the properties of cationic amphiphilic compounds that modulate host cell lipid biology. Although effective in vitro, protective effects were cell-type specific and did not translate to protection in vivo, indicating that subversion of lipid membrane physiology is an important, yet complex mechanism involved in SARS-CoV-2 replication and pathogenesis.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Lipids , Mice , Pandemics , Quality of Life , Vero Cells , Virus Replication