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Nat Commun ; 13(1): 4958, 2022 08 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2000890


Omicron SARS-CoV-2 is rapidly spreading worldwide. To delineate the impact of emerging mutations on spike's properties, we performed systematic structural analyses on apo Omicron spike and its complexes with human ACE2 or S309 neutralizing antibody (NAb) by cryo-EM. The Omicron spike preferentially adopts the one-RBD-up conformation both before and after ACE2 binding, which is in sharp contrast to the orchestrated conformational changes to create more up-RBDs upon ACE2 binding as observed in the prototype and other four variants of concern (VOCs). Furthermore, we found that S371L, S373P and S375F substitutions enhance the stability of the one-RBD-up conformation to prevent exposing more up-RBDs triggered by ACE2 binding. The increased stability of the one-RBD-up conformation restricts the accessibility of S304 NAb, which targets a cryptic epitope in the closed conformation, thus facilitating the immune evasion by Omicron. These results expand our understanding of Omicron spike's conformation, receptor binding and antibody evasion mechanism.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Antibodies, Monoclonal/genetics , Antibodies, Neutralizing/genetics , Humans , Mutation , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
J Inorg Biochem ; 231: 111777, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1873158


The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic is currently the major challenge to global public health. Two proteases, papain-like protease (PLpro) and the 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro or Mpro), are indispensable for SARS-CoV-2 replication, making them attractive targets for antiviral therapy development. Here we screened a panel of essential metal ions using a proteolytic assay and identified that zinc gluconate, a widely-used zinc supplement, strongly inhibited the proteolytic activities of the two proteases in vitro. Biochemical and crystallographic data reveal that zinc gluconate exhibited the inhibitory function via binding to the protease catalytic site residues. We further show that treatment of zinc gluconate in combination with a small molecule ionophore hinokitiol, could lead to elevated intracellular Zn2+ level and thereby significantly impaired the two protease activities in cellulo. Particularly, this approach could also be applied to rescue SARS-CoV-2 infected mammalian cells, indicative of potential application to combat coronavirus infections. Our studies provide the direct experimental evidence that elevated intracellular zinc concentration directly inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and suggest the potential benefits to use the zinc supplements for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment.

COVID-19 Drug Treatment , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Gluconates , Mammals/metabolism , Monoterpenes , Peptide Hydrolases/metabolism , Tropolone/analogs & derivatives , Zinc/pharmacology
Cell ; 185(13): 2265-2278.e14, 2022 06 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1803705


Breakthrough infections by SARS-CoV-2 variants become the global challenge for pandemic control. Previously, we developed the protein subunit vaccine ZF2001 based on the dimeric receptor-binding domain (RBD) of prototype SARS-CoV-2. Here, we developed a chimeric RBD-dimer vaccine approach to adapt SARS-CoV-2 variants. A prototype-Beta chimeric RBD-dimer was first designed to adapt the resistant Beta variant. Compared with its homotypic forms, the chimeric vaccine elicited broader sera neutralization of variants and conferred better protection in mice. The protection of the chimeric vaccine was further verified in macaques. This approach was generalized to develop Delta-Omicron chimeric RBD-dimer to adapt the currently prevalent variants. Again, the chimeric vaccine elicited broader sera neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 variants and conferred better protection against challenge by either Delta or Omicron SARS-CoV-2 in mice. The chimeric approach is applicable for rapid updating of immunogens, and our data supported the use of variant-adapted multivalent vaccine against circulating and emerging variants.

COVID-19 , Vaccines , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Mice , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
Chem Sci ; 12(42): 14098-14102, 2021 Nov 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1472230


The SARS-CoV-2 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro or Mpro) is a key cysteine protease for viral replication and transcription, making it an attractive target for antiviral therapies to combat the COVID-19 disease. Here, we demonstrate that bismuth drug colloidal bismuth subcitrate (CBS) is a potent inhibitor for 3CLpro in vitro and in cellulo. Rather than targeting the cysteine residue at the catalytic site, CBS binds to an allosteric site and results in dissociation of the 3CLpro dimer and proteolytic dysfunction. Our work provides direct evidence that CBS is an allosteric inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro.