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IUBMB Life ; 74(1): 93-100, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1353459


Unfolded protein response (UPR) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress are aspects of SARS-CoV-2-host cell interaction with proposed role in the cytopathic and inflammatory pathogenesis of this viral infection. The role of the NF-kB pathway in these cellular processes remains poorly characterized. When investigated in VERO-E6 cells, SARS-CoV-2 infection was found to markedly stimulate NF-kB protein expression and activity. NF-kB activation occurs early in the infection process (6 hpi) and it is associated with increased MAPK signaling and expression of the UPR inducer IRE-1α. These signal transduction processes characterize the cellular stress response to the virus promoting a pro-inflammatory environment and caspase activation in the host cell. Inhibition of viral replication by the viral protease inhibitor Nelfinavir reverts all these molecular changes also stimulating c-Jun expression, a key component of the JNK/AP-1 pathway with important role in the IRE-1α-mediated transcriptional regulation of stress response genes with anti-inflammatory and cytoprotection function. The present study demonstrates that UPR signaling and its interaction with cellular MAPKs and the NF-kB activity are important aspects of SARS-CoV-2-host cell interaction that deserve further investigation to identify more efficient therapies for this viral infection.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/metabolism , Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress/drug effects , NF-kappa B/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Caspase 9/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cytopathogenic Effect, Viral/drug effects , Humans , MAP Kinase Signaling System/drug effects , Models, Biological , Nelfinavir/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Unfolded Protein Response/drug effects , Vero Cells
Redox Biol ; 45: 102041, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1263367


Viral infections sustain their replication cycle promoting a pro-oxidant environment in the host cell. In this context, specific alterations of the levels and homeostatic function of the tripeptide glutathione have been reported to play a causal role in the pro-oxidant and cytopathic effects (CPE) of the virus. In this study, these aspects were investigated for the first time in SARS-CoV2-infected Vero E6 cells, a reliable and well-characterized in vitro model of this infection. SARS-CoV2 markedly decreased the levels of cellular thiols, essentially lowering the reduced form of glutathione (GSH). Such an important defect occurred early in the CPE process (in the first 24 hpi). Thiol analysis in N-acetyl-Cys (NAC)-treated cells and membrane transporter expression data demonstrated that both a lowered uptake of the GSH biosynthesis precursor Cys and an increased efflux of cellular thiols, could play a role in this context. Increased levels of oxidized glutathione (GSSG) and protein glutathionylation were also observed along with upregulation of the ER stress marker PERK. The antiviral drugs Remdesivir (Rem) and Nelfinavir (Nel) influenced these changes at different levels, essentially confirming the importance or blocking viral replication to prevent GSH depletion in the host cell. Accordingly, Nel, the most potent antiviral in our in vitro study, produced a timely activation of Nrf2 transcription factor and a GSH enhancing response that synergized with NAC to restore GSH levels in the infected cells. Despite poor in vitro antiviral potency and GSH enhancing function, Rem treatment was found to prevent the SARS-CoV2-induced glutathionylation of cellular proteins. In conclusion, SARS-CoV2 infection impairs the metabolism of cellular glutathione. NAC and the antiviral Nel can prevent such defect in vitro.

COVID-19 , Glutathione , Glutathione/metabolism , Glutathione Disulfide/metabolism , Humans , Oxidation-Reduction , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2