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1.
Commun Biol ; 5(1): 681, 2022 Jul 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1927105

ABSTRACT

The transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) primes the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein for host cell entry and represents a promising target for COVID-19 therapy. Here we describe the in silico development and in vitro characterization of peptidomimetic TMPRSS2 inhibitors. Molecular docking studies identified peptidomimetic binders of the TMPRSS2 catalytic site, which were synthesized and coupled to an electrophilic serine trap. The compounds inhibit TMPRSS2 while demonstrating good off-target selectivity against selected coagulation proteases. Lead candidates are stable in blood serum and plasma for at least ten days. Finally, we show that selected peptidomimetics inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Spike-driven pseudovirus entry and authentic SARS-CoV-2 infection with comparable efficacy as camostat mesylate. The peptidomimetic TMPRSS2 inhibitors also prevent entry of recent SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern Delta and Omicron BA.1. In sum, our study reports antivirally active and stable TMPRSS2 inhibitors with prospects for further preclinical and clinical development as antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2 and other TMPRSS2-dependent viruses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Peptidomimetics , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cell Culture Techniques , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , Peptidomimetics/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2 , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics
2.
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(3)2022 Jan 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1650980

ABSTRACT

TMPRSS2 is a type II transmembrane protease with broad expression in epithelial cells of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, the prostate, and other organs. Although the physiological role of TMPRSS2 remains largely elusive, several endogenous substrates have been identified. TMPRSS2 serves as a major cofactor in SARS-CoV-2 entry, and primes glycoproteins of other respiratory viruses as well. Consequently, inhibiting TMPRSS2 activity is a promising strategy to block viral infection. In this review, we provide an overview of the role of TMPRSS2 in the entry processes of different respiratory viruses. We then review the different classes of TMPRSS2 inhibitors and their clinical development, with a focus on COVID-19 treatment.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , Molecular Targeted Therapy/trends , Serine Endopeptidases/physiology , COVID-19/genetics , Humans , Molecular Targeted Therapy/methods , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Serine Proteinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , Serine Proteinase Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Virus Internalization/drug effects
3.
Mol Ther ; 30(1): 311-326, 2022 01 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1450246

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has made the development of safe and effective vaccines a critical priority. To date, four vaccines have been approved by European and American authorities for preventing COVID-19, but the development of additional vaccine platforms with improved supply and logistics profiles remains a pressing need. Here we report the preclinical evaluation of a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on the electroporation of engineered, synthetic cDNA encoding a viral antigen in the skeletal muscle. We constructed a set of prototype DNA vaccines expressing various forms of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein and assessed their immunogenicity in animal models. Among them, COVID-eVax-a DNA plasmid encoding a secreted monomeric form of SARS-CoV-2 S protein receptor-binding domain (RBD)-induced the most potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody responses (including against the current most common variants of concern) and a robust T cell response. Upon challenge with SARS-CoV-2, immunized K18-hACE2 transgenic mice showed reduced weight loss, improved pulmonary function, and lower viral replication in the lungs and brain. COVID-eVax conferred significant protection to ferrets upon SARS-CoV-2 challenge. In summary, this study identifies COVID-eVax as an ideal COVID-19 vaccine candidate suitable for clinical development. Accordingly, a combined phase I-II trial has recently started.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunization/methods , Models, Animal , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vaccines, DNA/administration & dosage , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Female , Ferrets , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Protein Domains , Rats, Sprague-Dawley
4.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4584, 2021 07 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387354

ABSTRACT

Interferon-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs 1, 2 and 3) can restrict viral pathogens, but pro- and anti-viral activities have been reported for coronaviruses. Here, we show that artificial overexpression of IFITMs blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, endogenous IFITM expression supports efficient infection of SARS-CoV-2 in human lung cells. Our results indicate that the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein interacts with IFITMs and hijacks them for efficient viral infection. IFITM proteins were expressed and further induced by interferons in human lung, gut, heart and brain cells. IFITM-derived peptides and targeting antibodies inhibit SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication in human lung cells, cardiomyocytes and gut organoids. Our results show that IFITM proteins are cofactors for efficient SARS-CoV-2 infection of human cell types representing in vivo targets for viral transmission, dissemination and pathogenesis and are potential targets for therapeutic approaches.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Antigens, Differentiation/genetics , Membrane Proteins/genetics , RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/antagonists & inhibitors , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antigens, Differentiation/metabolism , Binding Sites , COVID-19/virology , Gene Expression Regulation , Host-Pathogen Interactions/drug effects , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , Interferon-beta/pharmacology , Membrane Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , RNA, Small Interfering/genetics , RNA, Small Interfering/metabolism , RNA-Binding Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Homology, Amino Acid , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Attachment/drug effects
5.
J Immunol ; 206(11): 2614-2622, 2021 06 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1227099

ABSTRACT

The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has triggered the development of various SARS-CoV-2 neutralization tests. A wild-type virus (using African green monkey VeroE6 cells), a pseudovirus (using human Caco-2 cells), and a surrogate neutralization test platform were applied to characterize the SARS-CoV-2 neutralization potential of a cohort of 111 convalescent plasma donors over a period of seven months after diagnosis. This allowed an in-depth validation and assay performance analysis of these platforms. More importantly, we found that SARS-CoV-2 neutralization titers were stable or even increased within the observation period, which contradicts earlier studies reporting a rapid waning of Ab titers after three to four months. Moreover, we observed a positive correlation of neutralization titers with increasing age, number of symptoms reported, and the presence of the Rhesus Ag RhD. Validation of the platforms revealed that highest assay performances were obtained with the wild-type virus and the surrogate neutralization platforms. However, our data also suggested that selection of cutoff titers had a strong impact on the evaluation of neutralization potency. When taking strong neutralization potency, as demonstrated by the wild-type virus platform as the gold standard, up to 55% of plasma products had low neutralization titers. However, a significant portion of these products were overrated in their potency when using the surrogate assay with the recommended cutoff titer. In summary, our study demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 neutralization titers are stable for at least seven months after diagnosis and offers a testing strategy for rapid selection of high-titer convalescent plasma products in a biosafety level 1 environment.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Blood Donors , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral/therapeutic use , COVID-19/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Male , Rh-Hr Blood-Group System/immunology
6.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1726, 2021 03 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1142436

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory pathogen and primarily infects the airway epithelium. As our knowledge about innate immune factors of the respiratory tract against SARS-CoV-2 is limited, we generated and screened a peptide/protein library derived from bronchoalveolar lavage for inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 spike-driven entry. Analysis of antiviral fractions revealed the presence of α1-antitrypsin (α1AT), a highly abundant circulating serine protease inhibitor. Here, we report that α1AT inhibits SARS-CoV-2 entry at physiological concentrations and suppresses viral replication in cell lines and primary cells including human airway epithelial cultures. We further demonstrate that α1AT binds and inactivates the serine protease TMPRSS2, which enzymatically primes the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for membrane fusion. Thus, the acute phase protein α1AT is an inhibitor of TMPRSS2 and SARS-CoV-2 entry, and may play an important role in the innate immune defense against the novel coronavirus. Our findings suggest that repurposing of α1AT-containing drugs has prospects for the therapy of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Serine Proteinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/blood , Caco-2 Cells , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Molecular Docking Simulation , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Virus Replication/drug effects
7.
Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol ; 320(5): L750-L756, 2021 05 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1076012

ABSTRACT

Pharmaceutical interventions are urgently needed to prevent severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and transmission. As SARS-CoV-2 infects and spreads via the nasopharyngeal airways, we analyzed the antiviral effect of selected nasal and oral sprays on virus infection in vitro. Two nose sprays showed virucidal activity but were cytotoxic precluding further analysis in cell culture. One nasal and one mouth spray suppressed SARS-CoV-2 infection of TMPRSS2-expressing Vero E6 cells and primary differentiated human airway epithelial cultures. The antiviral activity in both sprays could be attributed to polyanionic ι- and κ-carrageenans. Thus, application of carrageenan-containing nasal and mouth sprays may reduce the risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection and may limit viral spread, warranting further clinical evaluation.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/prevention & control , Carrageenan/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Adult , Animals , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epithelial Cells/drug effects , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Nasal Sprays , Oral Sprays , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Vero Cells
8.
J Am Chem Soc ; 142(40): 17024-17038, 2020 10 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-772998

ABSTRACT

Broad-spectrum antivirals are powerful weapons against dangerous viruses where no specific therapy exists, as in the case of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We discovered that a lysine- and arginine-specific supramolecular ligand (CLR01) destroys enveloped viruses, including HIV, Ebola, and Zika virus, and remodels amyloid fibrils in semen that promote viral infection. Yet, it is unknown how CLR01 exerts these two distinct therapeutic activities. Here, we delineate a novel mechanism of antiviral activity by studying the activity of tweezer variants: the "phosphate tweezer" CLR01, a "carboxylate tweezer" CLR05, and a "phosphate clip" PC. Lysine complexation inside the tweezer cavity is needed to antagonize amyloidogenesis and is only achieved by CLR01. Importantly, CLR01 and CLR05 but not PC form closed inclusion complexes with lipid head groups of viral membranes, thereby altering lipid orientation and increasing surface tension. This process disrupts viral envelopes and diminishes infectivity but leaves cellular membranes intact. Consequently, CLR01 and CLR05 display broad antiviral activity against all enveloped viruses tested, including herpesviruses, Measles virus, influenza, and SARS-CoV-2. Based on our mechanistic insights, we potentiated the antiviral, membrane-disrupting activity of CLR01 by introducing aliphatic ester arms into each phosphate group to act as lipid anchors that promote membrane targeting. The most potent ester modifications harbored unbranched C4 units, which engendered tweezers that were approximately one order of magnitude more effective than CLR01 and nontoxic. Thus, we establish the mechanistic basis of viral envelope disruption by specific tweezers and establish a new class of potential broad-spectrum antivirals with enhanced activity.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Bridged-Ring Compounds/pharmacology , Organophosphates/pharmacology , Viral Envelope Proteins/drug effects , Acid Phosphatase/chemistry , Acid Phosphatase/metabolism , Amyloid/antagonists & inhibitors , Anti-HIV Agents/chemistry , Anti-HIV Agents/pharmacology , Arginine/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Bridged-Ring Compounds/chemistry , Cell Membrane/chemistry , Cell Membrane/drug effects , Cell Membrane/virology , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV-1/drug effects , Humans , Lipids/chemistry , Lysine/chemistry , Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy , Organophosphates/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2 , Seminal Vesicle Secretory Proteins/chemistry , Seminal Vesicle Secretory Proteins/metabolism , Structure-Activity Relationship , Viral Envelope Proteins/metabolism , Zika Virus/drug effects
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