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1.
Cell Host Microbe ; 30(11): 1518-1526.e4, 2022 11 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2117599

ABSTRACT

The newly emerged BA.2.75 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant contains 9 additional mutations in its spike (S) protein compared to the ancestral BA.2 variant. Here, we examine the neutralizing antibody escape of BA.2.75 in mRNA-vaccinated and BA.1-infected individuals, as well as the molecular basis underlying functional changes in S. Notably, BA.2.75 exhibits enhanced neutralization resistance over BA.2 but less than the BA.4/5 variant. The G446S and N460K mutations of BA.2.75 are primarily responsible for its enhanced resistance to neutralizing antibodies. The R493Q mutation, a reversion to the prototype sequence, reduces BA.2.75 neutralization resistance. The impact of these mutations is consistent with their locations in common neutralizing antibody epitopes. Further, BA.2.75 shows enhanced cell-cell fusion over BA.2, driven largely by the N460K mutation, which enhances S processing. Structural modeling reveals enhanced receptor contacts introduced by N460K, suggesting a mechanism of potentiated receptor utilization and syncytia formation.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing , COVID-19 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Neutralization Tests , Antibodies, Viral , Viral Envelope Proteins
2.
Front Pharmacol ; 13: 995481, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2043509

ABSTRACT

The messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for COVID-19, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, were authorized in the US on an emergency basis in December of 2020. The rapid distribution of these therapeutics around the country and the world led to millions of people being vaccinated in a short time span, an action that decreased hospitalization and death but also heightened the concerns about adverse effects and drug-vaccine interactions. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are of particular interest as they form the vanguard of a range of other mRNA therapeutics that are currently in the development pipeline, focusing both on infectious diseases as well as oncological applications. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has gained additional attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically regarding the rollout of mRNA therapeutics. However, for VAERS, absence of a reporting platform for drug-vaccine interactions left these events poorly defined. For example, chemotherapy, anticonvulsants, and antimalarials were documented to interfere with the mRNA vaccines, but much less is known about the other drugs that could interact with these therapeutics, causing adverse events or decreased efficacy. In addition, SARS-CoV-2 exploitation of host cytochrome P450 enzymes, reported in COVID-19 critical illness, highlights viral interference with drug metabolism. For example, patients with severe psychiatric illness (SPI) in treatment with clozapine often displayed elevated drug levels, emphasizing drug-vaccine interaction.

3.
Viruses ; 14(7)2022 Jun 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1964113

ABSTRACT

Membrane fusion constitutes an essential step in the replication cycle of numerous viral pathogens, hence it represents an important druggable target. In the present study, we established a virus-free, stable reporter fusion inhibition assay (SRFIA) specifically designed to identify compounds interfering with virus-induced membrane fusion. The dual reporter assay is based on two stable Vero cell lines harboring the third-generation tetracycline (Tet3G) transactivator and a bicistronic reporter gene cassette under the control of the tetracycline responsive element (TRE3G), respectively. Cell-cell fusion by the transient transfection of viral fusogens in the presence of doxycycline results in the expression of the reporter enzyme secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) and the fluorescent nuclear localization marker EYFPNuc. A constitutively expressed, secreted form of nanoluciferase (secNLuc) functioned as the internal control. The performance of the SRFIA was tested for the quantification of SARS-CoV-2- and HSV-1-induced cell-cell fusion, respectively, showing high sensitivity and specificity, as well as the reliable identification of known fusion inhibitors. Parallel quantification of secNLuc enabled the detection of cytotoxic compounds or insufficient transfection efficacy. In conclusion, the SRFIA reported here is well suited for high-throughput screening for new antiviral agents and essentially will be applicable to all viral fusogens causing cell-cell fusion in Vero cells.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Herpesvirus 1, Human , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Genes, Reporter , Herpesvirus 1, Human/genetics , Humans , Membrane Fusion , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Tetracyclines , Vero Cells
4.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 11(1): 1024-1036, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1740712

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 has caused the COVID-19 pandemic. B.1.617 variants (including Kappa and Delta) have been transmitted rapidly in India. The transmissibility, pathogenicity, and neutralization characteristics of these variants have received considerable interest. In this study, 22 pseudotyped viruses were constructed for B.1.617 variants and their corresponding single amino acid mutations. B.1.617 variants did not exhibit significant enhanced infectivity in human cells, but mutations T478K and E484Q in the receptor binding domain led to enhanced infectivity in mouse ACE2-overexpressing cells. Furin activities were slightly increased against B.1.617 variants and cell-cell fusion after infection of B.1.617 variants were enhanced. Furthermore, B.1.617 variants escaped neutralization by several mAbs, mainly because of mutations L452R, T478K, and E484Q in the receptor binding domain. The neutralization activities of sera from convalescent patients, inactivated vaccine-immunized volunteers, adenovirus vaccine-immunized volunteers, and SARS-CoV-2 immunized animals against pseudotyped B.1.617 variants were reduced by approximately twofold, compared with the D614G variant.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Cell Fusion , Humans , Mice , Mutation , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Viral Tropism
5.
J Virol ; 95(24): e0136821, 2021 11 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1691427

ABSTRACT

Severe cardiovascular complications can occur in coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) patients. Cardiac damage is attributed mostly to the aberrant host response to acute respiratory infection. However, direct infection of cardiac tissue by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) also occurs. We examined here the cardiac tropism of SARS-CoV-2 in spontaneously beating human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). These cardiomyocytes express the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor but not the transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2) that mediates spike protein cleavage in the lungs. Nevertheless, SARS-CoV-2 infection of hiPSC-CMs was prolific; viral transcripts accounted for about 88% of total mRNA. In the cytoplasm of infected hiPSC-CMs, smooth-walled exocytic vesicles contained numerous 65- to 90-nm particles with canonical ribonucleocapsid structures, and virus-like particles with knob-like spikes covered the cell surface. To better understand how SARS-CoV-2 spreads in hiPSC-CMs, we engineered an expression vector coding for the spike protein with a monomeric emerald-green fluorescent protein fused to its cytoplasmic tail (S-mEm). Proteolytic processing of S-mEm and the parental spike were equivalent. Live cell imaging tracked spread of S-mEm cell-to-cell and documented formation of syncytia. A cell-permeable, peptide-based molecule that blocks the catalytic site of furin and furin-like proteases abolished cell fusion. A spike mutant with the single amino acid change R682S that disrupts the multibasic furin cleavage motif was fusion inactive. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 replicates efficiently in hiPSC-CMs and furin, and/or furin-like-protease activation of its spike protein is required for fusion-based cytopathology. This hiPSC-CM platform enables target-based drug discovery in cardiac COVID-19. IMPORTANCE Cardiac complications frequently observed in COVID-19 patients are tentatively attributed to systemic inflammation and thrombosis, but viral replication has occasionally been confirmed in cardiac tissue autopsy materials. We developed an in vitro model of SARS-CoV-2 spread in myocardium using induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. In these highly differentiated cells, viral transcription levels exceeded those previously documented in permissive transformed cell lines. To better understand the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 spread, we expressed a fluorescent version of its spike protein that allowed us to characterize a fusion-based cytopathic effect. A mutant of the spike protein with a single amino acid mutation in the furin/furin-like protease cleavage site lost cytopathic function. Of note, the fusion activities of the spike protein of other coronaviruses correlated with the level of cardiovascular complications observed in infections with the respective viruses. These data indicate that SARS-CoV-2 may cause cardiac damage by fusing cardiomyocytes.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Myocytes, Cardiac/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Animals , Cathepsin B/metabolism , Cell Fusion , Chlorocebus aethiops , Embryonic Stem Cells/metabolism , Exocytosis , Humans , Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells/metabolism , Microscopy, Confocal , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/metabolism , Virus Internalization , Virus Replication
6.
J Med Virol ; 94(5): 2108-2125, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1627779

ABSTRACT

Variants of SARS-CoV-2 continue to emerge, posing great challenges in outbreak prevention and control. It is important to understand in advance the impact of possible variants of concern (VOCs) on infectivity and antigenicity. Here, we constructed one or more of the 15 high-frequency naturally occurring amino acid changes in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of Alpha, Beta, and Gamma variants. A single mutant of A520S, V367F, and S494P in the above three VOCs enhanced infectivity in ACE2-overexpressing 293T cells of different species, LLC-MK2 and Vero cells. Aggregation of multiple RBD mutations significantly reduces the infectivity of the possible three VOCs. Regarding neutralization, it is noteworthy that E484K, N501Y, K417N, and N439K predispose to monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) protection failure in the 15 high-frequency mutations. Most importantly, almost all possible VOCs (single RBD mutation or aggregation of multiple mutations) showed no more than a fourfold decrease in neutralizing activity with convalescent sera, vaccine sera, and immune sera of guinea pigs with different immunogens, and no significant antigenic drift was formed. In conclusion, our pseudovirus results could reduce the concern that the aggregation of multiple high-frequency mutations in the RBD of the spike protein of the three VOCs would lead to severe antigenic drift, and this would provide value for vaccine development strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antigenic Drift and Shift , COVID-19/therapy , Chlorocebus aethiops , Guinea Pigs , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Vero Cells
7.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 119(1)2022 01 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1599544

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a highly transmissible coronavirus responsible for the global COVID-19 pandemic. Herein, we provide evidence that SARS-CoV-2 spreads through cell-cell contact in cultures, mediated by the spike glycoprotein. SARS-CoV-2 spike is more efficient in facilitating cell-to-cell transmission than is SARS-CoV spike, which reflects, in part, their differential cell-cell fusion activity. Interestingly, treatment of cocultured cells with endosomal entry inhibitors impairs cell-to-cell transmission, implicating endosomal membrane fusion as an underlying mechanism. Compared with cell-free infection, cell-to-cell transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is refractory to inhibition by neutralizing antibody or convalescent sera of COVID-19 patients. While angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 enhances cell-to-cell transmission, we find that it is not absolutely required. Notably, despite differences in cell-free infectivity, the authentic variants of concern (VOCs) B.1.1.7 (alpha) and B.1.351 (beta) have similar cell-to-cell transmission capability. Moreover, B.1.351 is more resistant to neutralization by vaccinee sera in cell-free infection, whereas B.1.1.7 is more resistant to inhibition by vaccinee sera in cell-to-cell transmission. Overall, our study reveals critical features of SARS-CoV-2 spike-mediated cell-to-cell transmission, with important implications for a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 spread and pathogenesis.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Virus Internalization , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/therapy , Cell Fusion , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vero Cells
8.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 11(1): 182-194, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1550502

ABSTRACT

The ubiquitously-expressed proteolytic enzyme furin is closely related to the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 and therefore represents a key target for antiviral therapy. Based on bioinformatic analysis and pseudovirus tests, we discovered a second functional furin site located in the spike protein. Furin still increased the infectivity of mutated SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus in 293T-ACE2 cells when the canonical polybasic cleavage site (682-686) was deleted. However, K814A mutation eliminated the enhancing effect of furin on virus infection. Furin inhibitor prevented infection by 682-686-deleted SARS-CoV-2 in 293T-ACE2-furin cells, but not the K814A mutant. K814A mutation did not affect the activity of TMPRSS2 and cathepsin L but did impact the cleavage of S2 into S2' and cell-cell fusion. Additionally, we showed that this functional furin site exists in RaTG13 from bat and PCoV-GD/GX from pangolin. Therefore, we discovered a new functional furin site that is pivotal in promoting SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Cathepsin L/metabolism , Furin/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Cathepsin L/genetics , Cell Fusion , Chiroptera , Furin/genetics , Gene Expression , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Mutation , Receptors, Virus/genetics , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
9.
Cancers (Basel) ; 13(21)2021 Oct 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512125

ABSTRACT

Cell fusion is a well-known, but still scarcely understood biological phenomenon, which might play a role in cancer initiation, progression and formation of metastases. Although the merging of two (cancer) cells appears simple, the entire process is highly complex, energy-dependent and tightly regulated. Among cell fusion-inducing and -regulating factors, so-called fusogens have been identified as a specific type of proteins that are indispensable for overcoming fusion-associated energetic barriers and final merging of plasma membranes. About 8% of the human genome is of retroviral origin and some well-known fusogens, such as syncytin-1, are expressed by human (cancer) cells. Likewise, enveloped viruses can enable and facilitate cell fusion due to evolutionarily optimized fusogens, and are also capable to induce bi- and multinucleation underlining their fusion capacity. Moreover, multinucleated giant cancer cells have been found in tumors derived from oncogenic viruses. Accordingly, a potential correlation between viruses and fusogens of human endogenous retroviral origin in cancer cell fusion will be summarized in this review.

10.
Ann Neurosci ; 28(3-4): 201-218, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1477158

ABSTRACT

Background: Coronaviruses (CoVs) are single-stranded, polyadenylated, enveloped RNA of positive polarity with a unique potential to alter host tropism. This has been exceptionally demonstrated by the emergence of deadly virus outbreaks of the past: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) in 2012. Summary: The 2019 outbreak by the new cross-species transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has put the world on alert. CoV infection is triggered by receptor recognition, membrane fusion, and successive viral entry mediated by the surface Spike (S) glycoprotein. S protein is one of the major antigenic determinants and the target for neutralizing antibodies. It is a valuable target in antiviral therapies because of its central role in cell-cell fusion, viral antigen spread, and host immune responses leading to immunopathogenesis. The receptor-binding domain of S protein has received greater attention as it initiates host attachment and contains major antigenic determinants. However, investigating the therapeutic potential of fusion peptide as a part of the fusion core complex assembled by the heptad repeats 1 and 2 (HR1 and HR2) is also warranted. Along with receptor attachment and entry, fusion mechanisms should also be explored for designing inhibitors as a therapeutic intervention. Key message: In this article, we review the S protein function and its role in mediating membrane fusion, spread, tropism, and its associated pathogenesis with notable therapeutic strategies focusing on results obtained from studies on a murine ß-Coronavirus (m-CoV) and its associated disease process.

11.
J Mol Biol ; 434(6): 167280, 2022 03 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446877

ABSTRACT

Syncytia are formed when individual cells fuse. SARS-CoV-2 induces syncytia when the viral spike (S) protein on the surface of an infected cell interacts with receptors on neighboring cells. Syncytia may potentially contribute to pathology by facilitating viral dissemination, cytopathicity, immune evasion, and inflammatory response. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern possess several mutations within the S protein that enhance receptor interaction, fusogenicity and antibody binding. In this review, we discuss the molecular determinants of S mediated fusion and the antiviral innate immunity components that counteract syncytia formation. Several interferon-stimulated genes, including IFITMs and LY6E act as barriers to S protein-mediated fusion by altering the composition or biophysical properties of the target membrane. We also summarize the effect that the mutations associated with the variants of concern have on S protein fusogenicity. Altogether, this review contextualizes the current understanding of Spike fusogenicity and the role of syncytia during SARS-CoV-2 infection and pathology.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Giant Cells , Interferons , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Virus Internalization , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Giant Cells/virology , Humans , Immunity, Innate , Interferons/metabolism , Membrane Proteins/genetics , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
12.
Protein Cell ; 13(9): 655-675, 2022 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1432661

ABSTRACT

New threats posed by the emerging circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2 highlight the need to find conserved neutralizing epitopes for therapeutic antibodies and efficient vaccine design. Here, we identified a receptor-binding domain (RBD)-binding antibody, XG014, which potently neutralizes ß-coronavirus lineage B (ß-CoV-B), including SARS-CoV-2, its circulating variants, SARS-CoV and bat SARSr-CoV WIV1. Interestingly, antibody family members competing with XG014 binding show reduced levels of cross-reactivity and induce antibody-dependent SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein-mediated cell-cell fusion, suggesting a unique mode of recognition by XG014. Structural analyses reveal that XG014 recognizes a conserved epitope outside the ACE2 binding site and completely locks RBD in the non-functional "down" conformation, while its family member XG005 directly competes with ACE2 binding and position the RBD "up". Single administration of XG014 is effective in protection against and therapy of SARS-CoV-2 infection in vivo. Our findings suggest the potential to develop XG014 as pan-ß-CoV-B therapeutics and the importance of the XG014 conserved antigenic epitope for designing broadly protective vaccines against ß-CoV-B and newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Epitopes , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
13.
Int J Mol Sci ; 21(24)2020 Dec 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1383876

ABSTRACT

Cell-cell fusion between eukaryotic cells is a general process involved in many physiological and pathological conditions, including infections by bacteria, parasites, and viruses. As obligate intracellular pathogens, viruses use intracellular machineries and pathways for efficient replication in their host target cells. Interestingly, certain viruses, and, more especially, enveloped viruses belonging to different viral families and including human pathogens, can mediate cell-cell fusion between infected cells and neighboring non-infected cells. Depending of the cellular environment and tissue organization, this virus-mediated cell-cell fusion leads to the merge of membrane and cytoplasm contents and formation of multinucleated cells, also called syncytia, that can express high amount of viral antigens in tissues and organs of infected hosts. This ability of some viruses to trigger cell-cell fusion between infected cells as virus-donor cells and surrounding non-infected target cells is mainly related to virus-encoded fusion proteins, known as viral fusogens displaying high fusogenic properties, and expressed at the cell surface of the virus-donor cells. Virus-induced cell-cell fusion is then mediated by interactions of these viral fusion proteins with surface molecules or receptors involved in virus entry and expressed on neighboring non-infected cells. Thus, the goal of this review is to give an overview of the different animal virus families, with a more special focus on human pathogens, that can trigger cell-cell fusion.


Subject(s)
Cell Fusion , Cell Membrane/metabolism , Membrane Fusion , Viral Fusion Proteins/metabolism , Virus Internalization , Viruses/metabolism , Animals , Humans , Viruses/isolation & purification
14.
J Virol ; 95(9)2021 04 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1093846

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infects cells through interaction of its spike protein (SARS2-S) with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and activation by proteases, in particular transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2). Viruses can also spread through fusion of infected with uninfected cells. We compared the requirements of ACE2 expression, proteolytic activation, and sensitivity to inhibitors for SARS2-S-mediated and SARS-CoV-S (SARS1-S)-mediated cell-cell fusion. SARS2-S-driven fusion was moderately increased by TMPRSS2 and strongly by ACE2, while SARS1-S-driven fusion was strongly increased by TMPRSS2 and less so by ACE2 expression. In contrast to that of SARS1-S, SARS2-S-mediated cell-cell fusion was efficiently activated by batimastat-sensitive metalloproteases. Mutation of the S1/S2 proteolytic cleavage site reduced effector cell-target cell fusion when ACE2 or TMPRSS2 was limiting and rendered SARS2-S-driven cell-cell fusion more dependent on TMPRSS2. When both ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were abundant, initial target cell-effector cell fusion was unaltered compared to that of wild-type (wt) SARS2-S, but syncytia remained smaller. Mutation of the S2 cleavage (S2') site specifically abrogated activation by TMPRSS2 for both cell-cell fusion and SARS2-S-driven pseudoparticle entry but still allowed for activation by metalloproteases for cell-cell fusion and by cathepsins for particle entry. Finally, we found that the TMPRSS2 inhibitor bromhexine, unlike the inhibitor camostat, was unable to reduce TMPRSS2-activated cell-cell fusion by SARS1-S and SARS2-S. Paradoxically, bromhexine enhanced cell-cell fusion in the presence of TMPRSS2, while its metabolite ambroxol exhibited inhibitory activity under some conditions. On Calu-3 lung cells, ambroxol weakly inhibited SARS2-S-driven lentiviral pseudoparticle entry, and both substances exhibited a dose-dependent trend toward weak inhibition of authentic SARS-CoV-2.IMPORTANCE Cell-cell fusion allows viruses to infect neighboring cells without the need to produce free virus and contributes to tissue damage by creating virus-infected syncytia. Our results demonstrate that the S2' cleavage site is essential for activation by TMPRSS2 and unravel important differences between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, among those, greater dependence of SARS-CoV-2 on ACE2 expression and activation by metalloproteases for cell-cell fusion. Bromhexine, reportedly an inhibitor of TMPRSS2, is currently being tested in clinical trials against coronavirus disease 2019. Our results indicate that bromhexine enhances fusion under some conditions. We therefore caution against the use of bromhexine in high dosages until its effects on SARS-CoV-2 spike activation are better understood. The related compound ambroxol, which similarly to bromhexine is clinically used as an expectorant, did not exhibit activating effects on cell-cell fusion. Both compounds exhibited weak inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection at high concentrations, which might be clinically attainable for ambroxol.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , SARS Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization , Ambroxol/pharmacology , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Bromhexine/pharmacology , COVID-19/genetics , Cell Line , Humans , Mutation, Missense , Proteolysis/drug effects , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
15.
J Gen Virol ; 102(1)2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-873186

ABSTRACT

Although enveloped viruses canonically mediate particle entry through virus-cell fusion, certain viruses can spread by cell-cell fusion, brought about by receptor engagement and triggering of membrane-bound, viral-encoded fusion proteins on the surface of cells. The formation of pathogenic syncytia or multinucleated cells is seen in vivo, but their contribution to viral pathogenesis is poorly understood. For the negative-strand paramyxoviruses respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Nipah virus (NiV), cell-cell spread is highly efficient because their oligomeric fusion protein complexes are active at neutral pH. The recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has also been reported to induce syncytia formation in infected cells, with the spike protein initiating cell-cell fusion. Whilst it is well established that fusion protein-specific antibodies can block particle attachment and/or entry into the cell (canonical virus neutralization), their capacity to inhibit cell-cell fusion and the consequences of this neutralization for the control of infection are not well characterized, in part because of the lack of specific tools to assay and quantify this activity. Using an adapted bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay, based on a split GFP-Renilla luciferase reporter, we have established a micro-fusion inhibition test (mFIT) that allows the identification and quantification of these neutralizing antibodies. This assay has been optimized for high-throughput use and its applicability has been demonstrated by screening monoclonal antibody (mAb)-mediated inhibition of RSV and NiV fusion and, separately, the development of fusion-inhibitory antibodies following NiV vaccine immunization in pigs. In light of the recent emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a similar assay was developed for SARS-CoV-2 and used to screen mAbs and convalescent patient plasma for fusion-inhibitory antibodies. Using mFITs to assess antibody responses following natural infection or vaccination is favourable, as this assay can be performed entirely at low biocontainment, without the need for live virus. In addition, the repertoire of antibodies that inhibit cell-cell fusion may be different to those that inhibit particle entry, shedding light on the mechanisms underpinning antibody-mediated neutralization of viral spread.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/pharmacology , COVID-19/diagnosis , Henipavirus Infections/diagnosis , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/diagnosis , Viral Fusion Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Fusion , Convalescence , Genes, Reporter , Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics , Green Fluorescent Proteins/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Henipavirus Infections/immunology , Henipavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Immune Sera/chemistry , Luciferases/genetics , Luciferases/metabolism , Models, Molecular , Nipah Virus/immunology , Nipah Virus/pathogenicity , Protein Conformation , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/virology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/pathogenicity , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Swine , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/chemistry , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/metabolism , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/pharmacology , Viral Fusion Proteins/genetics , Viral Fusion Proteins/immunology
16.
Vaccine ; 38(46): 7205-7212, 2020 10 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-779733

ABSTRACT

The development of an effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 is urgently needed. We generated SARS-CoV-2 RBD-Fc fusion protein and evaluated its potency to elicit neutralizing antibody response in mice. RBD-Fc elicited a higher neutralizing antibodies titer than RBD as evaluated by a pseudovirus neutralization assay and a live virus based microneutralization assay. Furthermore, RBD-Fc immunized sera better inhibited cell-cell fusion, as evaluated by a quantitative cell-cell fusion assay. The cell-cell fusion assay results correlated well with the virus neutralization potency and could be used for high-throughput screening of large panels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and vaccines without the requirement of live virus infection in BSL3 containment. Moreover, the anti-RBD sera did not enhance the pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 infection of K562 cells. These results demonstrate that Fc fusion can significantly improve the humoral immune response to recombinant RBD immunogen, and suggest that RBD-Fc could serve as a useful component of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments/immunology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Viral Vaccines/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Betacoronavirus/immunology , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cell Fusion , Cell Line , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay , Female , HEK293 Cells , High-Throughput Screening Assays/methods , Humans , Immunity, Humoral/immunology , Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments/genetics , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Neutralization Tests , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Protein Domains/immunology , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/genetics , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vaccines, Subunit/immunology
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