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1.
PLoS Biol ; 19(12): e3001510, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1592147

ABSTRACT

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infects a broader range of mammalian species than previously predicted, binding a diversity of angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) orthologs despite extensive sequence divergence. Within this sequence degeneracy, we identify a rare sequence combination capable of conferring SARS-CoV-2 resistance. We demonstrate that this sequence was likely unattainable during human evolution due to deleterious effects on ACE2 carboxypeptidase activity, which has vasodilatory and cardioprotective functions in vivo. Across the 25 ACE2 sites implicated in viral binding, we identify 6 amino acid substitutions unique to mouse-one of the only known mammalian species resistant to SARS-CoV-2. Substituting human variants at these positions is sufficient to confer binding of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein to mouse ACE2, facilitating cellular infection. Conversely, substituting mouse variants into either human or dog ACE2 abolishes viral binding, diminishing cellular infection. However, these same substitutions decrease human ACE2 activity by 50% and are predicted as pathogenic, consistent with the extreme rarity of human polymorphisms at these sites. This trade-off can be avoided, however, depending on genetic background; if substituted simultaneously, these same mutations have no deleterious effect on dog ACE2 nor that of the rodent ancestor estimated to exist 70 million years ago. This genetic contingency (epistasis) may have therefore opened the road to resistance for some species, while making humans susceptible to viruses that use these ACE2 surfaces for binding, as does SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Disease Resistance/genetics , Epistasis, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Amino Acids , Angiotensin II/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Binding Sites , COVID-19/enzymology , COVID-19/genetics , Dogs , Evolution, Molecular , Gene Frequency , Humans , Hydrolysis , Mice , Mutation , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Attachment
2.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 6(1): 167, 2021 04 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585891

ABSTRACT

The ongoing 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 has posed a worldwide pandemic and a major global public health threat. The severity and mortality of COVID-19 are associated with virus-induced dysfunctional inflammatory responses and cytokine storms. However, the interplay between host inflammatory responses and SARS-CoV-2 infection remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein, the major structural protein of the virion, promotes the virus-triggered activation of NF-κB signaling. After binding to viral RNA, N protein robustly undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), which recruits TAK1 and IKK complex, the key kinases of NF-κB signaling, to enhance NF-κB activation. Moreover, 1,6-hexanediol, the inhibitor of LLPS, can attenuate the phase separation of N protein and restrict its regulatory functions in NF-κB activation. These results suggest that LLPS of N protein provides a platform to induce NF-κB hyper-activation, which could be a potential therapeutic target against COVID-19 severe pneumonia.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , NF-kappa B/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Signal Transduction , A549 Cells , Acrylates/pharmacology , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/pathology , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , HeLa Cells , Humans , Inflammation/drug therapy , Inflammation/metabolism , Inflammation/pathology , Phosphoproteins/metabolism , Vero Cells
3.
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci ; 62(7): 6, 2021 06 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388618

ABSTRACT

Purpose: To investigate the expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in human retina. Methods: Human post-mortem eyes from 13 non-diabetic control cases and 11 diabetic retinopathy cases were analyzed for the expression of ACE2. To compare the vascular ACE2 expression between different organs that involve in diabetes, the expression of ACE2 was investigated in renal specimens from nondiabetic and diabetic nephropathy patients. Expression of TMPRSS2, a cell-surface protease that facilitates SARS-CoV-2 entry, was also investigated in human nondiabetic retinas. Primary human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs) and primary human retinal pericytes (HRPCs) were further used to confirm the vascular ACE2 expression in human retina. Results: We found that ACE2 was expressed in multiple nonvascular neuroretinal cells, including the retinal ganglion cell layer, inner plexiform layer, inner nuclear layer, and photoreceptor outer segments in both nondiabetic and diabetic retinopathy specimens. Strikingly, we observed significantly more ACE2 positive vessels in the diabetic retinopathy specimens. By contrast, in another end-stage organ affected by diabetes, the kidney, ACE2 in nondiabetic and diabetic nephropathy showed apical expression of ACE2 tubular epithelial cells, but no endothelial expression in glomerular or peritubular capillaries. Western blot analysis of protein lysates from HRECs and HRPCs confirmed expression of ACE2. TMPRSS2 expression was present in multiple retinal neuronal cells, vascular and perivascular cells, and Müller glia. Conclusions: Together, these results indicate that retina expresses ACE2 and TMPRSS2. Moreover, there are increased vascular ACE2 expression in diabetic retinopathy retinas.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Diabetic Retinopathy/enzymology , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , Retina/enzymology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Binding Sites , Blotting, Western , Cells, Cultured , Diabetic Nephropathies/enzymology , Diabetic Nephropathies/pathology , Diabetic Nephropathies/virology , Diabetic Retinopathy/pathology , Diabetic Retinopathy/virology , Endothelium, Vascular/enzymology , Endothelium, Vascular/virology , Female , Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect , Humans , Immunohistochemistry , Male , Middle Aged , Pericytes/enzymology , Pericytes/virology , Retinal Vessels/enzymology , Retinal Vessels/pathology , Retinal Vessels/virology , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism
4.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 5(1): 221, 2020 10 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387195
5.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 6(1): 167, 2021 04 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1203416

ABSTRACT

The ongoing 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 has posed a worldwide pandemic and a major global public health threat. The severity and mortality of COVID-19 are associated with virus-induced dysfunctional inflammatory responses and cytokine storms. However, the interplay between host inflammatory responses and SARS-CoV-2 infection remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein, the major structural protein of the virion, promotes the virus-triggered activation of NF-κB signaling. After binding to viral RNA, N protein robustly undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), which recruits TAK1 and IKK complex, the key kinases of NF-κB signaling, to enhance NF-κB activation. Moreover, 1,6-hexanediol, the inhibitor of LLPS, can attenuate the phase separation of N protein and restrict its regulatory functions in NF-κB activation. These results suggest that LLPS of N protein provides a platform to induce NF-κB hyper-activation, which could be a potential therapeutic target against COVID-19 severe pneumonia.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , NF-kappa B/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Signal Transduction , A549 Cells , Acrylates/pharmacology , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/pathology , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , HeLa Cells , Humans , Inflammation/drug therapy , Inflammation/metabolism , Inflammation/pathology , Phosphoproteins/metabolism , Vero Cells
6.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 117(44): 27381-27387, 2020 11 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-867659

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has become a global crisis. There is no therapeutic treatment specific for COVID-19. It is highly desirable to identify potential antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2 from existing drugs available for other diseases and thus repurpose them for treatment of COVID-19. In general, a drug repurposing effort for treatment of a new disease, such as COVID-19, usually starts from a virtual screening of existing drugs, followed by experimental validation, but the actual hit rate is generally rather low with traditional computational methods. Here we report a virtual screening approach with accelerated free energy perturbation-based absolute binding free energy (FEP-ABFE) predictions and its use in identifying drugs targeting SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro). The accurate FEP-ABFE predictions were based on the use of a restraint energy distribution (RED) function, making the practical FEP-ABFE-based virtual screening of the existing drug library possible. As a result, out of 25 drugs predicted, 15 were confirmed as potent inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro The most potent one is dipyridamole (inhibitory constant Ki = 0.04 µM) which has shown promising therapeutic effects in subsequently conducted clinical studies for treatment of patients with COVID-19. Additionally, hydroxychloroquine (Ki = 0.36 µM) and chloroquine (Ki = 0.56 µM) were also found to potently inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Mpro We anticipate that the FEP-ABFE prediction-based virtual screening approach will be useful in many other drug repurposing or discovery efforts.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Drug Repositioning , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , COVID-19 , Chloroquine/pharmacology , Coronavirus 3C Proteases , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Cysteine Endopeptidases , Dipyridamole/pharmacology , Humans , Hydroxychloroquine/pharmacology , Molecular Docking Simulation , Molecular Structure , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2
7.
Ocul Surf ; 18(4): 537-544, 2020 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-597966

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Conjunctival signs and symptoms are observed in a subset of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in tears, raising concerns regarding the eye both as a portal of entry and carrier of the virus. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ocular surface cells possess the key factors required for cellular susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 entry/infection. METHODS: We analyzed human post-mortem eyes as well as surgical specimens for the expression of ACE2 (the receptor for SARS-CoV-2) and TMPRSS2, a cell surface-associated protease that facilitates viral entry following binding of the viral spike protein to ACE2. RESULTS: Across all eye specimens, immunohistochemical analysis revealed expression of ACE2 in the conjunctiva, limbus, and cornea, with especially prominent staining in the superficial conjunctival and corneal epithelial surface. Surgical conjunctival specimens also showed expression of ACE2 in the conjunctival epithelium, especially prominent in the superficial epithelium, as well as weak or focal expression in the substantia propria. All eye and conjunctival specimens also expressed TMPRSS2. Finally, Western blot analysis of protein lysates from human corneal epithelium obtained during refractive surgery confirmed expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2. CONCLUSIONS: Together, these results suggest that ocular surface cells including conjunctiva are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2, and could therefore serve as a portal of entry as well as a reservoir for person-to-person transmission of this virus. This highlights the importance of safety practices including face masks and ocular contact precautions in preventing the spread of COVID-19 disease.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/diagnosis , Conjunctiva/enzymology , Epithelium, Corneal/enzymology , Eye Infections, Viral/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Blotting, Western , COVID-19/metabolism , Disease Susceptibility , Eye Infections, Viral/metabolism , Female , Humans , Immunohistochemistry , Male , Middle Aged
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