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1.
Medical Hypotheses ; : 110948, 2022.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-2031564

ABSTRACT

Finding effective drugs to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection as a complementary step to the extensive vaccination is of the great importance to overcome the current pandemic situation. It has been shown that some bio-active unsaturated fatty acids such as Arachidonic Acid (AA) can reduce the infection severity and even destroy the virus by disintegration of the virus lipid envelope. On the other hand, it has been reported that several designed peptides with an activity similar to the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2), which has a high affinity towards the novel corona virus spike protein, can inhibit the viral infection through concealing the spike proteins from the cell surfaces ACE-2. Binding the mentioned peptides to the bio-active lipids like AA will result in a lipopeptide surfactant molecule with the synergistic effect of both the active moieties in its structure to treat the novel corona infection. In addition, the peptide segment increases the aqueous solubility of the lipid segment and enables the targeted delivery of the surfactant molecule to the virus. The resultant lipopeptide would be a potentially effective drug for SARS-CoV-2 infection treatment with the minimum side effects.

2.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 11(1): 1819-1827, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1915486

ABSTRACT

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and other variants of concern (VOCs) has brought huge challenges to control the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for urgent development of effective vaccines and therapeutic drugs. In this study, we focused on characterizing the impacts of divergent VOCs on the antiviral activity of lipopeptide-based fusion inhibitors that we previously developed. First, we found that pseudoviruses bearing the S proteins of five VOCs (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron) and one variant of interest (Lambda) exhibited greatly decreased infectivity relative to the wild-type (WT) strain or single D614G mutant, especially the Omicron pseudovirus. Differently, the most of variants exhibited an S protein with significantly enhanced cell fusion activity, whereas the S protein of Omicron still mediated decreased cell-cell fusion. Next, we verified that two lipopeptide-based fusion inhibitors, IPB02V3 and IPB24, maintained the highly potent activities in inhibiting various S proteins-driven cell fusion and pseudovirus infection. Surprisingly, both IPB02V3 and IPB24 lipopeptides displayed greatly increased potencies against the infection of authentic Omicron strain relative to the WT virus. The results suggest that Omicron variant evolves with a reduced cell fusion capacity and is more sensitive to the inhibition of fusion-inhibitory lipopeptides; thus, IPB02V3 and IPB24 can be further developed as potent, broad-spectrum antivirals for combating Omicron and the potential future outbreak of other emerging variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Anti-Retroviral Agents/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Humans , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Internalization
3.
Adv Exp Med Biol ; 1366: 87-100, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1782742

ABSTRACT

The continued HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide and the battle against emerging infectious diseases caused by coronaviruses underscore the need for the development of an ever-expanding repertoire of antiviral drugs. Entry inhibitors are of particular interest because of their potential to be used as therapeutic or prophylactic treatments for blocking viral invasion. HIV and coronaviruses utilize class I fusion proteins to facilitate their entry and membrane fusion. Discovery of a common hexameric coiled-coil fusion complex resulting from the packing of three C-terminal heptad repeat region from the fusion-mediating subunit of viral fusion proteins against trimeric coiled-coil made up by their N-terminal heptad repeat prompted the search for peptides mimicking the heptad repeat regions that could potentially inhibit viral entry. This has led to the development of effective peptides that are specific to the virus that is developed for. In this review, we focus on peptide-based entry dual inhibitors that block fusion process not only of HIV but also coronaviruses through interrupting their fusogenic six-helical bundle core and which hopefully will help to gain insight into the α-helical secondary structure- and coiled-coil superstructure-based strategies to design entry inhibitors with broad-spectrum antiviral activity against enveloped viruses with class I fusion proteins.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents , Coronavirus Infections , Coronavirus , HIV Fusion Inhibitors , HIV Infections , Peptides , Amino Acid Sequence , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , HIV Envelope Protein gp41/metabolism , HIV Envelope Protein gp41/pharmacology , HIV Fusion Inhibitors/pharmacology , HIV Fusion Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Humans , Peptides/pharmacology , Protein Structure, Secondary
4.
Front Immunol ; 13: 833418, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1771038

ABSTRACT

As TLR2 agonists, several lipopeptides had been proved to be candidate vaccine adjuvants. In our previous study, lipopeptides mimicking N-terminal structures of the bacterial lipoproteins were also able to promote antigen-specific immune response. However, the structure-activity relationship of lipopeptides as TLR2 agonists is still unclear. Here, 23 synthetic lipopeptides with the same lipid moiety but different peptide sequences were synthesized, and their TLR2 activities in vitro and mucosal adjuvant effects to OVA were evaluated. LP1-14, LP1-30, LP1-34 and LP2-2 exhibited significantly lower cytotoxicity and stronger TLR2 activity compared with Pam2CSK4, the latter being one of the most potent TLR2 agonists. LP1-34 and LP2-2 assisted OVA to induce more profound specific IgG in sera or sIgA in BALF than Pam2CSK4. Furthermore, the possibility of LP1-34, LP2-2 and Pam2CSK4 as the mucosal adjuvant for the SARS-CoV-2 recombinant RBD (rRBD) was investigated. Intranasally immunized with rRBD plus either the novel lipopeptide or Pam2CSK4 significantly increased the levels of specific serum and respiratory mucosal IgG and IgA, while rRBD alone failed to induce specific immune response due to its low immunogenicity. The novel lipopeptides, especially LP2-2, significantly increased levels of rRBD-induced SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody in sera, BALF and nasal wash. Finally, Support vector machine (SVM) results suggested that charged residues in lipopeptides might be beneficial to the agonist activity, while lipophilic residues might adversely affect the agonistic activity. Figuring out the relationship between peptide sequence in the lipopeptide and its TLR2 activity may lay the foundation for the rational design of novel lipopeptide adjuvant for COVID-19 vaccine.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Lipopeptides , Adjuvants, Immunologic/pharmacology , Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Immunity , Immunoglobulin G , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2 , Toll-Like Receptor 2
5.
Viruses ; 14(3)2022 03 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1732247

ABSTRACT

Our previous studies have shown that cholesterol-conjugated, peptide-based pan-coronavirus (CoV) fusion inhibitors can potently inhibit human CoV infection. However, only palmitic acid (C16)-based lipopeptide drugs have been tested clinically, suggesting that the development of C16-based lipopeptide drugs is feasible. Here, we designed and synthesized a C16-modified pan-CoV fusion inhibitor, EK1-C16, and found that it potently inhibited infection by SARS-CoV-2 and its variants of concern (VOCs), including Omicron, and other human CoVs and bat SARS-related CoVs (SARSr-CoVs). These results suggest that EK1-C16 could be further developed for clinical use to prevent and treat infection by the currently circulating MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 and its VOCs, as well as any future emerging or re-emerging coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus , COVID-19/drug therapy , Humans , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Palmitic Acid/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2
6.
Biomed J ; 44(6 Suppl 1): S15-S24, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1556276

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by a novel virus that is responsible for the largest pandemic in recent times. Although numerous studies have explored methods to cope with COVID-19 and targeted drugs and vaccines have been developed, the spread of disease remains rapid due to the high infectivity and mutation capability of SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19. Therefore, there is an urgent necessity to seek more efficient treatments and approaches to combat the disease. METHODS: In this study, molecular docking was used to predict the binding of different lipopeptides, which exhibit significant biological functions, to the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (also known as nsp12) of SARS-CoV-2, the central component of coronaviral replication and transcription machinery. RESULTS: The results showed that seven lipopeptides bound to nsp12 at the same location as the FDA-approved drug remdesivir, with higher affinities. Notably, iron-chelating ferrocin A (ferrocin A-iron complex [FAC]) bound to nsp12 most tightly, releasing up to 9.1 kcal mol-1 of free energy. Protein-ligand interaction analysis revealed that FAC formed four hydrogen bonds, two hydrophobic interactions, and three salt bridges with nsp12. These active amino acids are mainly distributed in the fingers and thumb subdomains of nsp12 and are highly conserved. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that the abovementioned lipopeptides can tightly bind to nsp12, and thus represent promising drug candidates for anti-coronaviral treatments with the potential to fight SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Humans , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Molecular Docking Simulation , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , SARS-CoV-2
7.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(21)2021 Nov 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1488619

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection poses a serious threat to global public health and the economy. The enzymatic product of cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (CH25H), 25-Hydroxycholesterol (25-HC), was reported to have potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity. Here, we found that the combination of 25-HC with EK1 peptide, a pan-coronavirus (CoV) fusion inhibitor, showed a synergistic antiviral activity. We then used the method of 25-HC modification to design and synthesize a series of 25-HC-modified peptides and found that a 25-HC-modified EK1 peptide (EK1P4HC) was highly effective against infections caused by SARS-CoV-2, its variants of concern (VOCs), and other human CoVs, such as HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-229E. EK1P4HC could protect newborn mice from lethal HCoV-OC43 infection, suggesting that conjugation of 25-HC with a peptide-based viral inhibitor was a feasible and universal strategy to improve its antiviral activity.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Hydroxycholesterols/chemistry , Lipopeptides/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Body Weight/drug effects , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/virology , Coronavirus 229E, Human/drug effects , Coronavirus 229E, Human/pathogenicity , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/mortality , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Coronavirus OC43, Human/drug effects , Coronavirus OC43, Human/pathogenicity , Disease Models, Animal , Drug Synergism , Humans , Hydroxycholesterols/pharmacology , Hydroxycholesterols/therapeutic use , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Lipopeptides/therapeutic use , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Polyethylene Glycols/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Survival Rate , Virus Internalization/drug effects
8.
Acta Pharm Sin B ; 12(4): 1652-1661, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1336241

ABSTRACT

The development of broad-spectrum antivirals against human coronaviruses (HCoVs) is critical to combat the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants, as well as future outbreaks of emerging CoVs. We have previously identified a polyethylene glycol-conjugated (PEGylated) lipopeptide, EK1C4, with potent pan-CoV fusion inhibitory activity. However, PEG linkers in peptide or protein drugs may reduce stability or induce anti-PEG antibodies in vivo. Therefore, we herein report the design and synthesis of a series of dePEGylated lipopeptide-based pan-CoV fusion inhibitors featuring the replacement of the PEG linker with amino acids in the heptad repeat 2 C-terminal fragment (HR2-CF) of HCoV-OC43. Among these lipopeptides, EKL1C showed the most potent inhibitory activity against infection by SARS-CoV-2 and its spike (S) mutants, as well as other HCoVs and some bat SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) tested. The dePEGylated lipopeptide EKL1C exhibited significantly stronger resistance to proteolytic enzymes, better metabolic stability in mouse serum, higher thermostability than the PEGylated lipopeptide EK1C4, suggesting that EKL1C could be further developed as a candidate prophylactic and therapeutic for COVID-19 and other coronavirus diseases.

9.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 10(1): 1227-1240, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1246665

ABSTRACT

The ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, has severely impacted the global public health and socio-economic stability, calling for effective vaccines and therapeutics. In this study, we continued our efforts to develop more efficient SARS-CoV-2 fusion inhibitors and achieved significant findings. First, we found that the membrane-proximal external region (MPER) sequence of SARS-CoV-2 spike fusion protein plays a critical role in viral infectivity and can serve as an ideal template for design of fusion-inhibitory peptides. Second, a panel of novel lipopeptides was generated with greatly improved activity in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 fusion and infection. Third, we showed that the new inhibitors maintained the potent inhibitory activity against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, including those with the major mutations of the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 strains circulating in the United Kingdom and South Africa, respectively. Fourth, the new inhibitors also cross-inhibited other human CoVs, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, HCoV-229E, and HCoV-NL63. Fifth, the structural properties of the new inhibitors were characterized by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy and crystallographic approach, which revealed the mechanisms underlying the high binding and inhibition. Combined, our studies provide important information for understanding the mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 fusion and a framework for the development of peptide therapeutics for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 and other CoVs.


Subject(s)
Drug Design , Lipopeptides/chemical synthesis , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Virus Attachment/drug effects , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Cell Fusion , Cell Survival/drug effects , Chlorocebus aethiops , Communicable Diseases, Emerging/virology , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mutagenesis, Site-Directed , Protein Conformation , Vero Cells
10.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(5)2021 Apr 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1201386

ABSTRACT

We describe the results of two vaccinations of a self-experimenting healthy volunteer with SARS-CoV-2-derived peptides performed in March and April 2020, respectively. The first set of peptides contained eight peptides predicted to bind to the individual's HLA molecules. The second set consisted of ten peptides predicted to bind promiscuously to several HLA-DR allotypes. The vaccine formulation contained the new TLR 1/2 agonist XS15 and was administered as an emulsion in Montanide as a single subcutaneous injection. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from blood drawn before and after vaccinations were assessed using Interferon-γ ELISpot assays and intracellular cytokine staining. We detected vaccine-induced CD4 T cell responses against six out of 11 peptides predicted to bind to HLA-DR after 19 days, following vaccination, for one peptide already at day 12. We used these results to support the design of a T-cell-inducing vaccine for application in high-risk patients, with weakened lymphocyte performance. Meanwhile, an according vaccine, incorporating T cell epitopes predominant in convalescents, is undergoing clinical trial testing.

11.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 10(1): 810-821, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1180458

ABSTRACT

EK1 peptide is a membrane fusion inhibitor with broad-spectrum activity against human coronaviruses (CoVs). In the outbreak of COVID-19, we generated a lipopeptide EK1V1 by modifying EK1 with cholesterol, which exhibited significantly improved antiviral activity. In this study, we surprisingly found that EK1V1 also displayed potent cross-inhibitory activities against divergent HIV-1, HIV-2, and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) isolates. Consistently, the recently reported EK1 derivative EK1C4 and SARS-CoV-2 derived fusion inhibitor lipopeptides (IPB02 ∼ IPB09) also inhibited HIV-1 Env-mediated cell-cell fusion and infection efficiently. In the inhibition of a panel of HIV-1 mutants resistant to HIV-1 fusion inhibitors, EK1V1 and IPB02-based inhibitors exhibited significantly decreased or increased activities, suggesting the heptad repeat-1 region (HR1) of HIV-1 gp41 being their target. Furthermore, the sequence alignment and molecular docking analyses verified the target site and revealed the mechanism underlying the resistance. Combined, we conclude that this serendipitous discovery provides a proof-of-concept for a common mechanism of viral fusion and critical information for the development of broad-spectrum antivirals.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus/drug effects , HIV-1/drug effects , HIV-2/drug effects , Simian Immunodeficiency Virus/drug effects , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Antiviral Agents/isolation & purification , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , HIV Fusion Inhibitors/isolation & purification , HIV Fusion Inhibitors/pharmacology , Humans , Lipopeptides/isolation & purification , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Molecular Docking Simulation , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Peptide Fragments/isolation & purification , Peptide Fragments/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Structure-Activity Relationship , Virus Replication/drug effects
12.
Int J Antimicrob Agents ; 57(1): 106218, 2021 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065131

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The recent pandemic outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has been associated with a lethal atypical pneumonia, making COVID-19 an urgent public health issue with an increasing rate of mortality and morbidity. There are currently no vaccines or therapeutics available for COVID-19, which is causing an urgent search for a new drug to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The lipid membrane alternation efficiency of small antimicrobial lipopeptides enables them to block viral membrane fusion to the host cell. Lipopeptides could serve as potential antiviral agents, by interacting or competing with viral fusion proteins. METHODS: This study screened seven different lipopeptides (tsushimycin, daptomycin, surfactin, bacillomycin, iturin, srfTE, and LPD-12) and docked them individually against the spike (S)-glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. RESULTS: Based on the maximum docked score and minimum atomic contact energy, LPD-12 (-1137.38 kcal) was the appropriate molecule for proper binding with the S-glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 and thus significantly interrupted its affinity of binding with angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2), which is the only receptor molecule found to be facilitating disease development. The results confirmed a strong binding affinity of LPD-12 with ACE2, with a binding free energy of -1621.62 kcal, which could also reciprocally prevent the binding of S-protein. CONCLUSTION: It can be concluded that LPD-12 may act as a potential therapeutic drug, by reducing the entry of SARS-CoV-2 to the human cells via the ACE2 receptor and related infections.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , Lipopeptides/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Molecular Docking Simulation , Peptides, Cyclic/chemistry , Peptides, Cyclic/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
13.
mBio ; 11(5)2020 10 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-883314

ABSTRACT

The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has erupted into a global pandemic that has led to tens of millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide. The development of therapeutics to treat infection or as prophylactics to halt viral transmission and spread is urgently needed. SARS-CoV-2 relies on structural rearrangements within a spike (S) glycoprotein to mediate fusion of the viral and host cell membranes. Here, we describe the development of a lipopeptide that is derived from the C-terminal heptad repeat (HRC) domain of SARS-CoV-2 S that potently inhibits infection by SARS-CoV-2. The lipopeptide inhibits cell-cell fusion mediated by SARS-CoV-2 S and blocks infection by live SARS-CoV-2 in Vero E6 cell monolayers more effectively than previously described lipopeptides. The SARS-CoV-2 lipopeptide exhibits broad-spectrum activity by inhibiting cell-cell fusion mediated by SARS-CoV-1 and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and blocking infection by live MERS-CoV in cell monolayers. We also show that the SARS-CoV-2 HRC-derived lipopeptide potently blocks the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in human airway epithelial (HAE) cultures, an ex vivo model designed to mimic respiratory viral propagation in humans. While viral spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection was widespread in untreated airways, those treated with SARS-CoV-2 HRC lipopeptide showed no detectable evidence of viral spread. These data provide a framework for the development of peptide therapeutics for the treatment of or prophylaxis against SARS-CoV-2 as well as other coronaviruses.IMPORTANCE SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19, continues to spread globally, placing strain on health care systems and resulting in rapidly increasing numbers of cases and mortalities. Despite the growing need for medical intervention, no FDA-approved vaccines are yet available, and treatment has been limited to supportive therapy for the alleviation of symptoms. Entry inhibitors could fill the important role of preventing initial infection and preventing spread. Here, we describe the design, synthesis, and evaluation of a lipopeptide that is derived from the HRC domain of the SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein that potently inhibits fusion mediated by SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein and blocks infection by live SARS-CoV-2 in both cell monolayers (in vitro) and human airway tissues (ex vivo). Our results highlight the SARS-CoV-2 HRC-derived lipopeptide as a promising therapeutic candidate for SARS-CoV-2 infections.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/physiology , COVID-19 , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Lipopeptides/chemistry , Membrane Fusion/drug effects , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/chemistry , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/drug effects , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/physiology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Protein Domains , Respiratory Mucosa/drug effects , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , SARS Virus/chemistry , SARS Virus/drug effects , SARS Virus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Vero Cells
14.
J Virol ; 94(14)2020 07 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-197345

ABSTRACT

The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by the emerging severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has posed serious threats to global public health and economic and social stabilities, calling for the prompt development of therapeutics and prophylactics. In this study, we first verified that SARS-CoV-2 uses human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a cell receptor and that its spike (S) protein mediates high membrane fusion activity. The heptad repeat 1 (HR1) sequence in the S2 fusion protein of SARS-CoV-2 possesses markedly increased α-helicity and thermostability, as well as a higher binding affinity with its corresponding heptad repeat 2 (HR2) site, than the HR1 sequence in S2 of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Then, we designed an HR2 sequence-based lipopeptide fusion inhibitor, termed IPB02, which showed highly potent activities in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 S protein-mediated cell-cell fusion and pseudovirus transduction. IPB02 also inhibited the SARS-CoV pseudovirus efficiently. Moreover, the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of IPB02 was characterized with a panel of truncated lipopeptides, revealing the amino acid motifs critical for its binding and antiviral capacities. Therefore, the results presented here provide important information for understanding the entry pathway of SARS-CoV-2 and the design of antivirals that target the membrane fusion step.IMPORTANCE The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2, presents a serious global public health emergency in urgent need of prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. The S protein of coronaviruses mediates viral receptor binding and membrane fusion, thus being considered a critical target for antivirals. Herein, we report that the SARS-CoV-2 S protein has evolved a high level of activity to mediate cell-cell fusion, significantly differing from the S protein of SARS-CoV that emerged previously. The HR1 sequence in the fusion protein of SARS-CoV-2 adopts a much higher helical stability than the HR1 sequence in the fusion protein of SARS-CoV and can interact with the HR2 site to form a six-helical bundle structure more efficiently, underlying the mechanism of the enhanced fusion capacity. Also, importantly, the design of membrane fusion inhibitors with high potencies against both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV has provided potential arsenals to combat the pandemic and tools to exploit the fusion mechanism.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Lipopeptides/pharmacology , Membrane Fusion/drug effects , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Betacoronavirus/physiology , COVID-19 , Drug Design , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Lipopeptides/chemistry , Membrane Glycoproteins/metabolism , Pandemics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/antagonists & inhibitors , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Viral Envelope Proteins/metabolism
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