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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335222

ABSTRACT

Variant of concern (VOC) Omicron-BA1 has achieved global predominance in early 2022. Therefore, surveillance and comprehensive characterization of Omicron-BA.1 in advanced primary cell culture systems and multiple animal models is urgently needed. Here, we characterized Omicron-BA.1 and recombinant Omicron-BA.1 spike gene mutants in comparison with VOC Delta in well-differentiated primary human nasal and bronchial epithelial cells in vitro, followed by in vivo fitness characterization in naïve hamsters, ferrets and hACE2-expressing mice, and in immunized hACE2-mice. We demonstrate a spike-mediated enhancement of early replication of Omicron-BA.1 in nasal epithelial cultures, but limited replication in bronchial epithelial cultures. In Syrian hamsters, Delta showed dominance over Omicron-BA.1 and in ferrets, Omicron-BA.1 infection was abortive. In mice expressing the authentic hACE2-receptor, Delta and a Delta spike clone also showed dominance over Omicron-BA.1 and an Omicron-BA.1 spike clone, respectively. Interestingly, in naïve K18-hACE2 mice, we observed Delta spike-mediated increased replication and pathogenicity and Omicron-BA.1 spike-mediated reduced replication and pathogenicity, suggesting that the spike gene is a major determinant of both Delta and Omicron-BA.1 replication and pathogenicity. Finally, the Omicron-BA.1 spike clone was less well controlled by mRNA-vaccination in K18-hACE2-mice and became more competitive compared to the progenitor and Delta spike clones, suggesting that spike gene-mediated immune evasion is another important factor that led to Omicron-BA.1 dominance.

2.
Ther Adv Neurol Disord ; 15: 17562864221080528, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1799140

ABSTRACT

Background: In coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients, there is increasing evidence of neuronal injury by the means of elevated serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels. However, the role of systemic inflammation and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific immune response with regard to neuronal injury has not yet been investigated. Methods: In a prospective cohort study, we recruited patients with mild-moderate (n = 39) and severe (n = 14) COVID-19 and measured sNfL levels, cytokine concentrations, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies including neutralizing antibody titers, and cell-mediated immune responses at enrollment and at 28(±7) days. We explored the association of neuro-axonal injury as by the means of sNfL measurements with disease severity, cytokine levels, and virus-specific immune responses. Results: sNfL levels, as an indicator for neuronal injury, were higher at enrollment and increased during follow-up in severely ill patients, whereas during mild-moderate COVID-19, sNfL levels remained unchanged. Severe COVID-19 was associated with increased concentrations of cytokines assessed [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1ß), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)], higher anti-spike IgG and anti-nucleocapsid IgG concentrations, and increased neutralizing antibody titers compared with mild-moderate disease. Patients with more severe disease had higher counts of defined SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. Increases in sNfL concentrations from baseline to day 28(±7) positively correlated with anti-spike protein IgG antibody levels and with titers of neutralizing antibodies. Conclusion: Severe COVID-19 is associated with increased serum concentration of cytokines and subsequent neuronal injury as reflected by increased levels of sNfL. Patients with more severe disease developed higher neutralizing antibody titers and higher counts of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells during the course of COVID-19 disease. Mounting a pronounced virus-specific humoral and cell-mediated immune response upon SARS-CoV-2 infection did not protect from neuro-axonal damage as by the means of sNfL levels.

3.
Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders ; 15, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1743793

ABSTRACT

Background: In coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients, there is increasing evidence of neuronal injury by the means of elevated serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels. However, the role of systemic inflammation and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)–specific immune response with regard to neuronal injury has not yet been investigated. Methods: In a prospective cohort study, we recruited patients with mild–moderate (n = 39) and severe (n = 14) COVID-19 and measured sNfL levels, cytokine concentrations, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies including neutralizing antibody titers, and cell-mediated immune responses at enrollment and at 28(±7) days. We explored the association of neuro-axonal injury as by the means of sNfL measurements with disease severity, cytokine levels, and virus-specific immune responses. Results: sNfL levels, as an indicator for neuronal injury, were higher at enrollment and increased during follow-up in severely ill patients, whereas during mild–moderate COVID-19, sNfL levels remained unchanged. Severe COVID-19 was associated with increased concentrations of cytokines assessed [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)], higher anti-spike IgG and anti-nucleocapsid IgG concentrations, and increased neutralizing antibody titers compared with mild–moderate disease. Patients with more severe disease had higher counts of defined SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. Increases in sNfL concentrations from baseline to day 28(±7) positively correlated with anti-spike protein IgG antibody levels and with titers of neutralizing antibodies. Conclusion: Severe COVID-19 is associated with increased serum concentration of cytokines and subsequent neuronal injury as reflected by increased levels of sNfL. Patients with more severe disease developed higher neutralizing antibody titers and higher counts of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells during the course of COVID-19 disease. Mounting a pronounced virus-specific humoral and cell-mediated immune response upon SARS-CoV-2 infection did not protect from neuro-axonal damage as by the means of sNfL levels.

4.
Nature ; 602(7896): 307-313, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585832

ABSTRACT

Emerging variants of concern (VOCs) are driving the COVID-19 pandemic1,2. Experimental assessments of replication and transmission of major VOCs and progenitors are needed to understand the mechanisms of replication and transmission of VOCs3. Here we show that the spike protein (S) from Alpha (also known as B.1.1.7) and Beta (B.1.351) VOCs had a greater affinity towards the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor than that of the progenitor variant S(D614G) in vitro. Progenitor variant virus expressing S(D614G) (wt-S614G) and the Alpha variant showed similar replication kinetics in human nasal airway epithelial cultures, whereas the Beta variant was outcompeted by both. In vivo, competition experiments showed a clear fitness advantage of Alpha over wt-S614G in ferrets and two mouse models-the substitutions in S were major drivers of the fitness advantage. In hamsters, which support high viral replication levels, Alpha and wt-S614G showed similar fitness. By contrast, Beta was outcompeted by Alpha and wt-S614G in hamsters and in mice expressing human ACE2. Our study highlights the importance of using multiple models to characterize fitness of VOCs and demonstrates that Alpha is adapted for replication in the upper respiratory tract and shows enhanced transmission in vivo in restrictive models, whereas Beta does not overcome Alpha or wt-S614G in naive animals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Animals, Laboratory/virology , COVID-19/veterinary , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Male , Mesocricetus/virology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virulence/genetics
5.
Open Forum Infect Dis ; 8(12): ofab524, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1566042

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Protests and police fieldwork provide a high-exposure environment for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections. In this cross-sectional analysis, we investigated the seroprevalence among a police cohort, and sociodemographic, work, and health-related factors associated with seropositivity. METHODS: Study participants were invited for serological testing of SARS-CoV-2 and to complete online questionnaires. Serum neutralization titers toward the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (expressing D614G) and the Alpha and Beta variants were measured in seropositive study participants. RESULTS: A total of 978 police personnel representing 35% of the entire staff participated from February to March 2021. The seroprevalence was 12.9%. It varied by geographic region, ranged from 9% to 13.5% in 3 regions, including the city; and was 22% in Bernese Seeland/Jura with higher odds for seropositivity (odds ratio [OR], 2.38 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.28-4.44], P=.006). Job roles with mainly office activity were associated with a lower risk of seropositivity (OR, 0.33 [95% CI, .14-.77], P=.010). Self-reported compliance with mask wearing during working hours was 100%; 45% of seropositive vs 5% of seronegative participants (P<.001) reported having had contact with a proven coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case living in the same household prior to serological testing. The level of serum antibody titers correlated with neutralization capacity. Antibodies derived from natural SARS-CoV-2 infection effectively neutralized the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, but were less effective against the Alpha and Beta variants. CONCLUSIONS: The seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies of police officers was comparable to that reported in the general population, suggesting that the personal protective equipment of the police is effective, and that household contacts are the leading transmission venues. The level of serum antibody titers, in particular that of anti-spike antibodies, correlated well with neutralization capacity. Low antibody titers acquired from natural infection were not effective against variants. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT04643444.

6.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 27(7): 1811-1820, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1278358

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread globally, and the number of worldwide cases continues to rise. The zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2 and its intermediate and potential spillback host reservoirs, besides humans, remain largely unknown. Because of ethical and experimental constraints and more important, to reduce and refine animal experimentation, we used our repository of well-differentiated airway epithelial cell (AEC) cultures from various domesticated and wildlife animal species to assess their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. We observed that SARS-CoV-2 replicated efficiently only in monkey and cat AEC culture models. Whole-genome sequencing of progeny viruses revealed no obvious signs of nucleotide transitions required for SARS-CoV-2 to productively infect monkey and cat AEC cultures. Our findings, together with previous reports of human-to-animal spillover events, warrant close surveillance to determine the potential role of cats, monkeys, and closely related species as spillback reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Animals, Wild , COVID-19 , Animals , Epithelial Cells , Humans , Respiratory System , SARS-CoV-2
7.
PLoS Biol ; 19(3): e3001158, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1156073

ABSTRACT

Since its emergence in December 2019, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread globally and become a major public health burden. Despite its close phylogenetic relationship to SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 exhibits increased human-to-human transmission dynamics, likely due to efficient early replication in the upper respiratory epithelium of infected individuals. Since different temperatures encountered in the human upper and lower respiratory tract (33°C and 37°C, respectively) have been shown to affect the replication kinetics of several respiratory viruses, as well as host innate immune response dynamics, we investigated the impact of temperature on SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection using the primary human airway epithelial cell culture model. SARS-CoV-2, in contrast to SARS-CoV, replicated to higher titers when infections were performed at 33°C rather than 37°C. Although both viruses were highly sensitive to type I and type III interferon pretreatment, a detailed time-resolved transcriptome analysis revealed temperature-dependent interferon and pro-inflammatory responses induced by SARS-CoV-2 that were inversely proportional to its replication efficiency at 33°C or 37°C. These data provide crucial insight on pivotal virus-host interaction dynamics and are in line with characteristic clinical features of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV, as well as their respective transmission efficiencies.


Subject(s)
Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral/genetics , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cells, Cultured , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epithelial Cells/drug effects , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Epithelial Cells/virology , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral/drug effects , Host-Pathogen Interactions/drug effects , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , Interferons/pharmacology , SARS Virus/drug effects , SARS Virus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Species Specificity , Temperature , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects , Virus Replication/genetics
8.
Microorganisms ; 8(12)2020 Nov 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-945877

ABSTRACT

With over 50 million currently confirmed cases worldwide, including more than 1.3 million deaths, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has a major impact on the economy and health care system. Currently, limited prophylactic or therapeutic intervention options are available against SARS-CoV-2. In this study, 400 compounds from the antimicrobial "pandemic response box" library were screened for inhibiting properties against SARS-CoV-2. An initial screen on Vero E6 cells identified five compounds that inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication. However, validation of the selected hits in a human lung cell line highlighted that only a single compound, namely Retro-2.1, efficiently inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication. Additional analysis revealed that the antiviral activity of Retro-2.1 occurs at a post-entry stage of the viral replication cycle. Combined, these data demonstrate that stringent in vitro screening of preselected compounds in multiple cell lines refines the rapid identification of new potential antiviral candidate drugs targeting SARS-CoV-2.

9.
Nature ; 582(7813): 561-565, 2020 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-164589

ABSTRACT

Reverse genetics has been an indispensable tool to gain insights into viral pathogenesis and vaccine development. The genomes of large RNA viruses, such as those from coronaviruses, are cumbersome to clone and manipulate in Escherichia coli owing to the size and occasional instability of the genome1-3. Therefore, an alternative rapid and robust reverse-genetics platform for RNA viruses would benefit the research community. Here we show the full functionality of a yeast-based synthetic genomics platform to genetically reconstruct diverse RNA viruses, including members of the Coronaviridae, Flaviviridae and Pneumoviridae families. Viral subgenomic fragments were generated using viral isolates, cloned viral DNA, clinical samples or synthetic DNA, and these fragments were then reassembled in one step in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using transformation-associated recombination cloning to maintain the genome as a yeast artificial chromosome. T7 RNA polymerase was then used to generate infectious RNA to rescue viable virus. Using this platform, we were able to engineer and generate chemically synthesized clones of the virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)4, which has caused the recent pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in only a week after receipt of the synthetic DNA fragments. The technical advance that we describe here facilitates rapid responses to emerging viruses as it enables the real-time generation and functional characterization of evolving RNA virus variants during an outbreak.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Cloning, Molecular/methods , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Genomics/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Reverse Genetics/methods , Synthetic Biology/methods , Animals , COVID-19 , China/epidemiology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Chromosomes, Artificial, Yeast/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases/metabolism , Evolution, Molecular , Humans , Mutation , Pandemics/statistics & numerical data , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Respiratory Syncytial Viruses/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Saccharomyces cerevisiae/genetics , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/metabolism , Zika Virus/genetics
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