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Trends Pharmacol Sci ; 2022 Jul 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1956357


Decoy receptor proteins that trick viruses to bind to them should be resistant to viral escape because viruses that require entry receptors cannot help but bind decoy receptors. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the major receptor for coronavirus cell entry. Recombinant soluble ACE2 was previously developed as a biologic against acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and verified to be safe in clinical studies. The emergence of COVID-19 reignited interest in soluble ACE2 as a potential broad-spectrum decoy receptor against coronaviruses. In this review, we summarize recent developments in preclinical studies using various high-affinity mutagenesis and Fc fusion approaches to achieve therapeutic efficacy of recombinant ACE2 decoy receptor against coronaviruses. We also highlight the relevance of stimulating effector immune cells through Fc-receptor engagement and the potential of using liquid aerosol delivery of ACE2 decoy receptors for defense against ACE2-utilizing coronaviruses.

Sci Transl Med ; 14(650): eabn7737, 2022 06 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1807308


The Omicron (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 variant contains an unusually high number of mutations in the spike protein, raising concerns of escape from vaccines, convalescent serum, and therapeutic drugs. Here, we analyzed the degree to which Omicron pseudo-virus evades neutralization by serum or therapeutic antibodies. Serum samples obtained 3 months after two doses of BNT162b2 vaccination exhibited 18-fold lower neutralization titers against Omicron than parental virus. Convalescent serum samples from individuals infected with the Alpha and Delta variants allowed similar frequencies of Omicron breakthrough infections. Domain-wise analysis using chimeric spike proteins revealed that this efficient evasion was primarily achieved by mutations clustered in the receptor binding domain but that multiple mutations in the N-terminal domain contributed as well. Omicron escaped a therapeutic cocktail of imdevimab and casirivimab, whereas sotrovimab, which targets a conserved region to avoid viral mutation, remains effective. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) decoys are another virus-neutralizing drug modality that are free, at least in theory, from complete escape. Deep mutational analysis demonstrated that an engineered ACE2 molecule prevented escape for each single-residue mutation in the receptor binding domain, similar to immunized serum. Engineered ACE2 neutralized Omicron comparably to the Wuhan strain and also showed a therapeutic effect against Omicron infection in hamsters and human ACE2 transgenic mice. Similar to previous SARS-CoV-2 variants, some sarbecoviruses showed high sensitivity against engineered ACE2, confirming the therapeutic value against diverse variants, including those that are yet to emerge.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , COVID-19 , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral/therapeutic use , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/therapy , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Mice , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/chemistry , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-294121


Breakthrough infection is often observed for the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, and neutralizing antibody levels are associated with vaccine efficiency 1 . Recent studies revealed that not only anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies 2 but also antibodies against the N-terminal domain (NTD) play important roles in positively 3,4 or negatively 4-8 controlling SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. Here, we found that the Delta variant completely escaped from anti-NTD neutralizing antibodies, while increasing responsiveness to anti-NTD infectivity-enhancing antibodies. Cryo-EM analysis of the Delta spike revealed that epitopes for anti-NTD neutralizing antibodies are structurally divergent, whereas epitopes for enhancing antibodies are well conserved with wild-type spike protein. Although Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2-immune sera neutralized the original Delta variant, when major anti-RBD neutralizing antibody epitopes remaining in the Delta variant were disrupted, some BNT162b2-immune sera not only lost neutralizing activity but became infection-enhanced. The enhanced infectivity disappeared when the Delta NTD was substituted with the wild-type NTD. Sera of mice immunized by Delta spike, but not wild-type spike, consistently neutralized the Delta variant lacking anti-RBD antibody epitopes without enhancing infectivity. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2 variants with similar mutations in the RBD have already emerged according to the GISAID database and their pseudoviruses were resistant to some BNT162b2-immune sera. These findings demonstrate that mutations in the NTD, as well as the RBD, play an important role in antibody escape by SARS-CoV-2. Development of effective vaccines against emerging variants will be necessary, not only to protect against infection, but also to prevent further mutation of SARS-CoV-2.

Nat Commun ; 12(1): 3802, 2021 06 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387351


SARS-CoV-2 has mutated during the global pandemic leading to viral adaptation to medications and vaccinations. Here we describe an engineered human virus receptor, ACE2, by mutagenesis and screening for binding to the receptor binding domain (RBD). Three cycles of random mutagenesis and cell sorting achieved sub-nanomolar affinity to RBD. Our structural data show that the enhanced affinity comes from better hydrophobic packing and hydrogen-bonding geometry at the interface. Additional disulfide mutations caused the fixing of a closed ACE2 conformation to avoid off-target effects of protease activity, and also improved structural stability. Our engineered ACE2 neutralized SARS-CoV-2 at a 100-fold lower concentration than wild type; we also report that no escape mutants emerged in the co-incubation after 15 passages. Therapeutic administration of engineered ACE2 protected hamsters from SARS-CoV-2 infection, decreased lung virus titers and pathology. Our results provide evidence of a therapeutic potential of engineered ACE2.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Cells, Cultured , Cricetinae , Crystallography, X-Ray , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Male , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Protein Binding , Protein Engineering/methods , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism