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1.
Embase; 2022.
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-337509

ABSTRACT

The worldwide spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to the repeated emergence of variants of concern. The Omicron variant has two dominant sub-lineages, BA.1 and BA.2, each with unprecedented numbers of nonsynonymous and indel spike protein mutations: 33 and 29, respectively. Some of these mutations individually increase transmissibility and enhance immune evasion, but their interactions within the Omicron mutational background is unknown. We characterize the molecular effects of all Omicron spike mutations on expression, human ACE2 receptor affinity, and neutralizing antibody recognition. We show that key mutations enable escape from neutralizing antibodies at a variety of epitopes. Stabilizing mutations in the N-terminal and S2 domains of the spike protein compensate for destabilizing mutations in the receptor binding domain, thereby enabling the record number of mutations in Omicron sub-lineages. Taken together, our results provide a comprehensive account of the mutational effects in the Omicron spike protein and illuminate previously unknown mechanisms of how the N-terminal domain can compensate for destabilizing mutations within the more evolutionarily constrained RBD.

2.
PubMed; 2020.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-333557

ABSTRACT

A spike protein mutation D614G became dominant in SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the mutational impact on viral spread and vaccine efficacy remains to be defined. Here we engineer the D614G mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 USA-WA1/2020 strain and characterize its effect on viral replication, pathogenesis, and antibody neutralization. The D614G mutation significantly enhances SARS-CoV-2 replication on human lung epithelial cells and primary human airway tissues, through an improved infectivity of virions with the spike receptor-binding domain in an "up" conformation for binding to ACE2 receptor. Hamsters infected with D614 or G614 variants developed similar levels of weight loss. However, the G614 virus produced higher infectious titers in the nasal washes and trachea, but not lungs, than the D614 virus. The hamster results confirm clinical evidence that the D614G mutation enhances viral loads in the upper respiratory tract of COVID-19 patients and may increases transmission. For antibody neutralization, sera from D614 virus-infected hamsters consistently exhibit higher neutralization titers against G614 virus than those against D614 virus, indicating that (i) the mutation may not reduce the ability of vaccines in clinical trials to protect against COVID-19 and (ii) therapeutic antibodies should be tested against the circulating G614 virus before clinical development. IMPORTANCE: Understanding the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for disease control and prevention. A spike protein mutation D614G emerged and became dominant soon after the pandemic started. By engineering the D614G mutation into an authentic wild-type SARS-CoV-2 strain, we demonstrate the importance of this mutation to (i) enhanced viral replication on human lung epithelial cells and primary human airway tissues, (ii) improved viral fitness in the upper airway of infected hamsters, and (iii) increased susceptibility to neutralization. Together with clinical findings, our work underscores the importance of this mutation in viral spread, vaccine efficacy, and antibody therapy.

3.
PubMed; 2020.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-333556

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in a global pandemic and shutdown economies around the world. Sequence analysis indicates that the novel coronavirus (CoV) has an insertion of a furin cleavage site (PRRAR) in its spike protein. Absent in other group 2B CoVs, the insertion may be a key factor in the replication and virulence of SARS-CoV-2. To explore this question, we generated a SARS-CoV-2 mutant lacking the furin cleavage site (DELTAPRRA) in the spike protein. This mutant virus replicated with faster kinetics and improved fitness in Vero E6 cells. The mutant virus also had reduced spike protein processing as compared to wild-type SARS-CoV-2. In contrast, the DELTAPRRA had reduced replication in Calu3 cells, a human respiratory cell line, and had attenuated disease in a hamster pathogenesis model. Despite the reduced disease, the DELTAPRRA mutant offered robust protection from SARS-CoV-2 rechallenge. Importantly, plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNT 50 ) with COVID-19 patient sera and monoclonal antibodies against the receptor-binding domain found a shift, with the mutant virus resulting in consistently reduced PRNT 50 titers. Together, these results demonstrate a critical role for the furin cleavage site insertion in SARS-CoV-2 replication and pathogenesis. In addition, these findings illustrate the importance of this insertion in evaluating neutralization and other downstream SARS-CoV-2 assays. IMPORTANCE: As COVID-19 has impacted the world, understanding how SARS-CoV-2 replicates and causes virulence offers potential pathways to disrupt its disease. By removing the furin cleavage site, we demonstrate the importance of this insertion to SARS-CoV-2 replication and pathogenesis. In addition, the findings with Vero cells indicate the likelihood of cell culture adaptations in virus stocks that can influence reagent generation and interpretation of a wide range of data including neutralization and drug efficacy. Overall, our work highlights the importance of this key motif in SARS-CoV-2 infection and pathogenesis. ARTICLE SUMMARY: A deletion of the furin cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2 amplifies replication in Vero cells, but attenuates replication in respiratory cells and pathogenesis in vivo. Loss of the furin site also reduces susceptibility to neutralization in vitro .

4.
PubMed; 2022.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-332321

ABSTRACT

While SARS-CoV-2 continues to adapt for human infection and transmission, genetic variation outside of the spike gene remains largely unexplored. This study investigates a highly variable region at residues 203-205 in the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein. Recreating a mutation found in the alpha and omicron variants in an early pandemic (WA-1) background, we find that the R203K+G204R mutation is sufficient to enhance replication, fitness, and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2. The R203K+G204R mutant corresponds with increased viral RNA and protein both in vitro and in vivo . Importantly, the R203K+G204R mutation increases nucleocapsid phosphorylation and confers resistance to inhibition of the GSK-3 kinase, providing a molecular basis for increased virus replication. Notably, analogous alanine substitutions at positions 203+204 also increase SARS-CoV-2 replication and augment phosphorylation, suggesting that infection is enhanced through ablation of the ancestral 'RG' motif. Overall, these results demonstrate that variant mutations outside spike are key components in SARS-CoV-2's continued adaptation to human infection. Author Summary: Since its emergence, SARS-CoV-2 has continued to adapt for human infection resulting in the emergence of variants with unique genetic profiles. Most studies of genetic variation have focused on spike, the target of currently available vaccines, leaving the importance of variation elsewhere understudied. Here, we characterize a highly variable motif at residues 203-205 in nucleocapsid. Recreating the prominent nucleocapsid R203K+G204R mutation in an early pandemic background, we show that this mutation is alone sufficient to enhance SARS-CoV-2 replication and pathogenesis. We also link augmentation of SARS-CoV-2 infection by the R203K+G204R mutation to its modulation of nucleocapsid phosphorylation. Finally, we characterize an analogous alanine double substitution at positions 203-204. This mutant was found to mimic R203K+G204R, suggesting augmentation of infection occurs by disrupting the ancestral sequence. Together, our findings illustrate that mutations outside of spike are key components of SARS-CoV-2's adaptation to human infection.

5.
Pharmacy Education ; 22(1):54-62, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1772254

ABSTRACT

Background: Hybrid teaching methodologies involve the purposeful combination of traditional teaching with technology advances. Despite some challenges, they have gained popularity recently, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. This study evaluated hybrid e-learning with multiple inquiries involving students’ receptiveness, preferences, behaviours and instructor observations. Method: The methodology involved a mixed-method approach with a qualitative observational case study, surveys and interviews for problem-based learning alternatives to traditional lectures. Instruction included: 1) Assigned primary literature reading with study questions to be completed before class;2) Out-of-class online video-clips with visual, practical application (i.e. lithium and non-lithium induced tremor assessment) and online discussion in CANVAS Learning Management System;3) Start-of-class quiz in ExamSoft, in-class team-based application questions with instructor-led discussion;4) Out-of-class team final exam review assignment in CANVAS. Results: Qualitative themes were student engagement, flexibility, preferences, academic and non-academic stressors, etiquette, and defining responsibility for academic success. The majority of students preferred primary literature review, video clips, followed by online CANVAS discussions. Written assignments were the least desirable. Conclusion: These experiences are useful for qualitative evaluation of teaching and learning methods.

6.
PubMed; 2020.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-329349

ABSTRACT

The etiologic agent of the outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan China was identified as severe acute respiratory syndrome associated coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in January, 2020. The first US patient was diagnosed by the State of Washington and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on January 20, 2020. We isolated virus from nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens, and characterized the viral sequence, replication properties, and cell culture tropism. We found that the virus replicates to high titer in Vero-CCL81 cells and Vero E6 cells in the absence of trypsin. We also deposited the virus into two virus repositories, making it broadly available to the public health and research communities. We hope that open access to this important reagent will expedite development of medical countermeasures.

7.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326917

ABSTRACT

The explosive spread of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant underscores the importance of analyzing the cross-protection from previous non-Omicron infection. We developed a high-throughput neutralization assay for Omicron SARS-CoV-2 by engineering the Omicron spike gene into an mNeonGreen USA-WA1/2020 SARS-CoV-2 (isolated in January 2020). Using this assay, we determined the neutralization titers of patient sera collected at 1- or 6-months after infection with non-Omicron SARS-CoV-2. From 1- to 6-month post-infection, the neutralization titers against USA-WA1/2020 decreased from 601 to 142 (a 4.2-fold reduction), while the neutralization titers against Omicron-spike SARS-CoV-2 remained low at 38 and 32, respectively. Thus, at 1- and 6-months after non-Omicron SARS-CoV-2 infection, the neutralization titers against Omicron were 15.8- and 4.4-fold lower than those against USA-WA1/2020, respectively. The low cross-neutralization against Omicron from previous non-Omicron infection supports vaccination of formerly infected individuals to mitigate the health impact of the ongoing Omicron surge.

8.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326897

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic in southern Africa has been characterised by three distinct waves. The first was associated with a mix of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, whilst the second and third waves were driven by the Beta and Delta variants respectively1–3. In November 2021, genomic surveillance teams in South Africa and Botswana detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant associated with a rapid resurgence of infections in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Within three days of the first genome being uploaded, it was designated a variant of concern (Omicron) by the World Health Organization and, within three weeks, had been identified in 87 countries. The Omicron variant is exceptional for carrying over 30 mutations in the spike glycoprotein, predicted to influence antibody neutralization and spike function4. Here, we describe the genomic profile and early transmission dynamics of Omicron, highlighting the rapid spread in regions with high levels of population immunity.

9.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326830

ABSTRACT

The furin cleavage site (FCS), an unusual feature in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, has been spotlighted as a factor key to facilitating infection and pathogenesis by increasing spike processing 1,2. Similarly, the QTQTN motif directly upstream of the FCS is also an unusual feature for group 2B coronaviruses (CoVs). The QTQTN deletion has consistently been observed in in vitro cultured virus stocks and some clinical isolates 3. To determine whether the QTQTN motif is critical to SARS-CoV-2 replication and pathogenesis, we generated a mutant deleting the QTQTN motif (ΔQTQTN). Here we report that the QTQTN deletion attenuates viral replication in respiratory cells in vitro and attenuates disease in vivo. The deletion results in a shortened, more rigid peptide loop that contains the FCS, and is less accessible to host proteases, such as TMPRSS2. Thus, the deletion reduced the efficiency of spike processing and attenuates SARS-CoV-2 infection. Importantly, the QTQTN motif also contains residues that are glycosylated4, and disruption its glycosylation also attenuates virus replication in a TMPRSS2-dependent manner. Together, our results reveal that three aspects of the S1/S2 cleavage site – the FCS, loop length, and glycosylation – are required for efficient SARS-CoV-2 replication and pathogenesis.

10.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326808

ABSTRACT

Motivation: Building reliable phylogenies from very large collections of sequences with a limited number of phylogenetically informative sites is challenging because sequencing errors and recurrent/backward mutations interfere with the phylogenetic signal, confounding true evolutionary relationships. Massive global efforts of sequencing genomes and reconstructing the phylogeny of SARS-CoV-2 strains exemplify these difficulties since there are only hundreds of phylogenetically informative sites and millions of genomes. For such datasets, we set out to develop a method for building the phylogenetic tree of genomic haplotypes consisting of positions harboring common variants to improve the signal-tonoise ratio for more accurate phylogenetic inference of resolvable phylogenetic features. Results: We present the TopHap approach that determines spatiotemporally common haplotypes of common variants and builds their phylogeny at a fraction of the computational time of traditional methods. To assess topological robustness, we develop a bootstrap resampling strategy that resamples genomes spatiotemporally. The application of TopHap to build a phylogeny of 68,057 genomes (68KG) produced an evolutionary tree of major SARS-CoV-2 haplotypes. This phylogeny is concordant with the mutation tree inferred using the co-occurrence pattern of mutations and recovers key phylogenetic relationships from more traditional analyses. We also evaluated alternative roots of the SARS-CoV-2 phylogeny and found that the earliest sampled genomes in 2019 likely evolved by four mutations of the most recent common ancestor of all SARS-CoV-2 genomes. An application of TopHap to more than 1 million genomes reconstructed the most comprehensive evolutionary relationships of major variants, which confirmed the 68KG phylogeny and provided evolutionary origins of major variants of concern.

11.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326768

ABSTRACT

Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC), including the highly transmissible delta strain, has posed challenges to current COVID-19 vaccines that principally target the viral spike protein (S). Here, we report a nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccine that expresses the more conserved viral nucleoprotein (mRNA-N). We show that mRNA-N alone was able to induce a modest but significant control of SARS-CoV-2 in mice and hamsters. Critically, by combining mRNA-N with the clinically approved S-expressing mRNA vaccine (mRNA-S-2P), we found that combinatorial mRNA vaccination (mRNA-S+N) led to markedly enhanced protection against the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant compared to mRNA-S. In a hamster model, we demonstrated that while mRNA-S alone elicited significant control of the delta strain in the lungs (~45-fold reduction in viral loads compared to un-vaccinated control), its effectiveness in the upper respiratory tract was weak, whereas combinatorial mRNA-S+N vaccination induced markedly more robust control of the delta variant infection in the lungs (~450-fold reduction) as well as in the upper respiratory tract (~20-fold reduction). Immune analyses indicated that induction of N-specific immunity as well as augmented S-specific T-cell response and neutralizing antibody activity were collectively associated the enhanced protection against SARS-CoV-2 delta strain by combinatorial mRNA vaccination. These findings suggest that the combined effects of protection in the lungs and upper respiratory tract could both reduce the risk of severe disease as well as of infection and transmission.

13.
PUBMED; 2021.
Preprint in English | PUBMED | ID: ppcovidwho-293364

ABSTRACT

Beginning in the summer of 2020, a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerged in the United Kingdom (UK). This B.1.1.7 variant increased rapidly in prevalence among sequenced strains, attributed to an increase in infection and/or transmission efficiency. The UK variant has 19 nonsynonymous mutations across its viral genome including 8 substitutions or deletions in the spike protein, which interacts with cellular receptors to mediate infection and tropism. Here, using a reverse genetics approach, we show that, of the 8 individual spike protein substitutions, only N501Y exhibited consistent fitness gains for replication in the upper airway in the hamster model as well as primary human airway epithelial cells. The N501Y substitution recapitulated the phenotype of enhanced viral transmission seen with the combined 8 UK spike mutations, suggesting it is a major determinant responsible for increased transmission of this variant. Mechanistically, the N501Y substitution improved the affinity of the viral spike protein for cellular receptors. As suggested by its convergent evolution in Brazil and South Africa, our results indicate that N501Y substitution is a major adaptive spike mutation of major concern.

14.
PUBMED; 2021.
Preprint in English | PUBMED | ID: ppcovidwho-293041

ABSTRACT

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in a worldwide pandemic causing significant damage to public health and the economy. Efforts to understand the mechanisms of COVID-19 disease have been hampered by the lack of robust mouse models. To overcome this barrier, we utilized a reverse genetic system to generate a mouse-adapted strain of SARS-CoV-2. Incorporating key mutations found in SARSCoV-2 variants, this model recapitulates critical elements of human infection including viral replication in the lung, immune cell infiltration, and significant in vivo disease. Importantly, mouse-adaptation of SARS-CoV-2 does not impair replication in human airway cells and maintains antigenicity similar to human SARS-CoV-2 strains. Utilizing this model, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 infected mice are protected from lethal challenge with the original SARS-CoV, suggesting immunity from heterologous CoV strains. Together, the results highlight the utility of this mouse model for further study of SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease.

15.
J Hosp Infect ; 111: 35-39, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1122084

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has resulted in high levels of exposure of medical workers to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Hand decontamination is one of the actions recommended to reduce the risk of infection. AIM: Two disinfectants - BIAKOS antimicrobial skin and wound cleanser (AWC) and AWC2 (Sanara MedTech, Fort Worth, TX, USA) - were tested to determine whether they can inactivate SARS-CoV-2 upon contact or as a coating applied before contact with the virus. METHODS: The ability of AWC and AWC2 to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 was tested in liquid and dried form on plastic surfaces and porcine skin. FINDINGS: AWC and AWC2 were effective in reducing the infectious titre of SARS-CoV-2 in liquid form during application and in dried form 4 h after application. Virus on skin was reduced up to 2 log10-fold and 3.5 log10-fold after treatment with AWC and AWC2, respectively. CONCLUSION: Application of AWC and AWC2 to skin reduces the level of SARS-CoV-2 and the risk of infection.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , COVID-19/prevention & control , Hand Disinfection/methods , Hand Sanitizers/administration & dosage , Microbial Viability/drug effects , Skin/virology , Administration, Topical , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
16.
PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-6289

ABSTRACT

Rapidly spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2 that have arisen in the United Kingdom and South Africa share the spike N501Y substitution, which is of particular concern because it is located in the viral receptor binding site for cell entry and increases binding to the receptor. We generated isogenic N501 and Y501 SARS-CoV-2. Twenty human sera from the mRNA-based vaccine BNT162b2 trial exhibited equivalent neutralizing titers to the N501 and Y501 viruses.

17.
PubMed; 2020.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-6252

ABSTRACT

A spike protein mutation D614G became dominant in SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the mutational impact on viral spread and vaccine efficacy remains to be defined. Here we engineer the D614G mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 USA-WA1/2020 strain and characterize its effect on viral replication, pathogenesis, and antibody neutralization. The D614G mutation significantly enhances SARS-CoV-2 replication on human lung epithelial cells and primary human airway tissues, through an improved infectivity of virions with the spike receptor-binding domain in an "up" conformation for binding to ACE2 receptor. Hamsters infected with D614 or G614 variants developed similar levels of weight loss. However, the G614 virus produced higher infectious titers in the nasal washes and trachea, but not lungs, than the D614 virus. The hamster results confirm clinical evidence that the D614G mutation enhances viral loads in the upper respiratory tract of COVID-19 patients and may increases transmission. For antibody neutralization, sera from D614 virus-infected hamsters consistently exhibit higher neutralization titers against G614 virus than those against D614 virus, indicating that (i) the mutation may not reduce the ability of vaccines in clinical trials to protect against COVID-19 and (ii) therapeutic antibodies should be tested against the circulating G614 virus before clinical development.

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