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J Virol ; 95(14): e0066321, 2021 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1291038


RNA structural elements occur in numerous single-stranded positive-sense RNA viruses. The stem-loop 2 motif (s2m) is one such element with an unusually high degree of sequence conservation, being found in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) in the genomes of many astroviruses, some picornaviruses and noroviruses, and a variety of coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and SARS-CoV-2. The evolutionary conservation and its occurrence in all viral subgenomic transcripts imply a key role for s2m in the viral infection cycle. Our findings indicate that the element, while stably folded, can nonetheless be invaded and remodeled spontaneously by antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) that initiate pairing in exposed loops and trigger efficient sequence-specific RNA cleavage in reporter assays. ASOs also act to inhibit replication in an astrovirus replicon model system in a sequence-specific, dose-dependent manner and inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication in cell culture. Our results thus permit us to suggest that the s2m element is readily targeted by ASOs, which show promise as antiviral agents. IMPORTANCE The highly conserved stem-loop 2 motif (s2m) is found in the genomes of many RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Our findings indicate that the s2m element can be targeted by antisense oligonucleotides. The antiviral potential of this element represents a promising start for further research into targeting conserved elements in RNA viruses.

COVID-19 , Genome, Viral , Nucleotide Motifs , RNA Folding , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Vero Cells
Front Mol Biosci ; 7: 197, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-732872


Here we report our perspective on applying GapmeR technology in combination with recombinant angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. GapmeR is a cell-permeating antisense single-stranded DNA molecule that can be designed to specifically target intracellular severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Once internalized into host cells, such as lung alveolar cells, GapmeR molecules can bind to the viral RNA. This RNA/DNA hybrid will then be degraded by the RNase H enzyme abundantly present in the host cells. GapmeRs can be delivered to COVID-19 patients through inhalation or via nebulization. SARS-CoV-2-targeted GapmeR can also be given to frontline healthcare workers as a prophylactic protection. The recombinant ACE2 protein, the efficacy of which is being evaluated in clinical trials, will bind to the spike (S) glycoprotein of extracellular SARS-CoV-2 and potentially block viral infectivity. We propose that combining inhalable SARS-CoV-2-targeted GapmeRs with recombinant ACE2 could provide a viable and rapidly implementable more effective therapeutic approach for eradicating SARS-CoV-2 and save millions of lives.