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J Virol ; 96(1): e0151121, 2022 01 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1621995


The development of mouse models for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has enabled testing of vaccines and therapeutics and defining aspects of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pathogenesis. SARS-CoV-2 disease is severe in K18 transgenic mice (K18-hACE2 Tg) expressing human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2), the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, under an ectopic cytokeratin promoter, with high levels of infection measured in the lung and brain. Here, we evaluated SARS-CoV-2 infection in hACE2 knock-in (KI) mice that express hACE2 under an endogenous promoter in place of murine ACE2 (mACE2). Intranasal inoculation of hACE2 KI mice with SARS-CoV-2 WA1/2020 resulted in substantial viral replication within the upper and lower respiratory tracts with limited spread to extrapulmonary organs. However, SARS-CoV-2-infected hACE2 KI mice did not lose weight and developed limited pathology. Moreover, no significant differences in viral burden were observed in hACE2 KI mice infected with B.1.1.7 or B.1.351 variants compared to the WA1/2020 strain. Because the entry mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 in mice remain uncertain, we evaluated the impact of the naturally occurring, mouse-adapting N501Y mutation by comparing infection of hACE2 KI, K18-hACE2 Tg, ACE2-deficient, and wild-type C57BL/6 mice. The N501Y mutation minimally affected SARS-CoV-2 infection in hACE2 KI mice but was required for viral replication in wild-type C57BL/6 mice in a mACE2-dependent manner and augmented pathogenesis in the K18-hACE2 Tg mice. Thus, the N501Y mutation likely enhances interactions with mACE2 or hACE2 in vivo. Overall, our study highlights the hACE2 KI mice as a model of mild SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease and clarifies the requirement of the N501Y mutation in mice. IMPORTANCE Mouse models of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis have facilitated the rapid evaluation of countermeasures. While the first generation of models developed pneumonia and severe disease after SARS-CoV-2 infection, they relied on ectopic expression of supraphysiological levels of human ACE2 (hACE2). This has raised issues with their relevance to humans, as the hACE2 receptor shows a more restricted expression pattern in the respiratory tract. Here, we evaluated SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease with viruses containing or lacking a key mouse-adapting mutation in the spike gene in hACE2 KI mice, which express hACE2 under an endogenous promoter in place of murine ACE2. While infection of hACE2 KI mice with multiple strains of SARS-CoV-2 including variants of concern resulted in viral replication within the upper and lower respiratory tracts, the animals did not sustain severe lung injury. Thus, hACE2 KI mice serve as a model of mild infection with both ancestral and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant strains.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Lung/virology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/pathology , Disease Models, Animal , Gene Expression , Gene Knock-In Techniques , Humans , Inflammation , Lung/metabolism , Lung/pathology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Viral Load , Virus Replication
Science ; 371(6532): 926-931, 2021 02 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1048642


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral proteins interact with the eukaryotic translation machinery, and inhibitors of translation have potent antiviral effects. We found that the drug plitidepsin (aplidin), which has limited clinical approval, possesses antiviral activity (90% inhibitory concentration = 0.88 nM) that is more potent than remdesivir against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro by a factor of 27.5, with limited toxicity in cell culture. Through the use of a drug-resistant mutant, we show that the antiviral activity of plitidepsin against SARS-CoV-2 is mediated through inhibition of the known target eEF1A (eukaryotic translation elongation factor 1A). We demonstrate the in vivo efficacy of plitidepsin treatment in two mouse models of SARS-CoV-2 infection with a reduction of viral replication in the lungs by two orders of magnitude using prophylactic treatment. Our results indicate that plitidepsin is a promising therapeutic candidate for COVID-19.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Depsipeptides/pharmacology , Peptide Elongation Factor 1/antagonists & inhibitors , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Adenosine Monophosphate/therapeutic use , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Alanine/therapeutic use , Animals , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/biosynthesis , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Depsipeptides/administration & dosage , Depsipeptides/therapeutic use , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Female , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Lung/virology , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mutation , Peptides, Cyclic , Phosphoproteins/biosynthesis , Phosphoproteins/genetics , RNA, Viral/biosynthesis , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication/drug effects
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 9(1): 2433-2445, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-872909


Severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently causing a worldwide pandemic with high morbidity and mortality. Development of animal models that recapitulate important aspects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is critical for the evaluation of vaccines and antivirals, and understanding disease pathogenesis. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to use the same entry receptor as SARS-CoV-1, human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) [1-3]. Due to amino acid differences between murine and hACE2, inbred mouse strains fail to support high titer viral replication of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, a number of transgenic and knock-in mouse models, as well as viral vector-mediated hACE2 delivery systems have been developed. Here we compared the K18-hACE2 transgenic model to adenovirus-mediated delivery of hACE2 to the mouse lung. We show that K18-hACE2 mice replicate virus to high titers in the nasal turbinates, lung and brain, with high lethality, and cytokine/chemokine production. In contrast, adenovirus-mediated delivery results in viral replication to lower titers limited to the nasal turbinates and lung, and no clinical signs of infection. The K18-hACE2 model provides a stringent model for testing vaccines and antivirals, whereas the adenovirus delivery system has the flexibility to be used across multiple genetic backgrounds and modified mouse strains.

Betacoronavirus/growth & development , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , SARS Virus/growth & development , Virus Replication/genetics , A549 Cells , Adenoviridae/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Betacoronavirus/metabolism , COVID-19 , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Humans , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Pandemics , SARS Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Vero Cells , Virus Attachment