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1.
Clin Epigenetics ; 13(1): 187, 2021 10 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1526657

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 uses the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and neuropilin-1 (NRP1) receptors for entry into cells, and the serine protease TMPRSS2 for S protein priming. Inhibition of protease activity or the engagement with ACE2 and NRP1 receptors has been shown to be an effective strategy for blocking infectivity and viral spreading. Valproic acid (VPA; 2-propylpentanoic acid) is an epigenetic drug approved for clinical use. It produces potent antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects through its function as a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Here, we propose VPA as a potential candidate to tackle COVID-19, in which rapid viral spread and replication, and hyperinflammation are crucial elements. RESULTS: We used diverse cell lines (HK-2, Huh-7, HUVEC, Caco-2, and BEAS-2B) to analyze the effect of VPA and other HDAC inhibitors on the expression of the ACE-2 and NRP-1 receptors and their ability to inhibit infectivity, viral production, and the inflammatory response. Treatment with VPA significantly reduced expression of the ACE2 and NRP1 host proteins in all cell lines through a mechanism mediated by its HDAC inhibitory activity. The effect is maintained after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Consequently, the treatment of cells with VPA before infection impairs production of SARS-CoV-2 infectious viruses, but not that of other ACE2- and NRP1-independent viruses (VSV and HCoV-229E). Moreover, the addition of VPA 1 h post-infection with SARS-CoV-2 reduces the production of infectious viruses in a dose-dependent manner without significantly modifying the genomic and subgenomic messenger RNAs (gRNA and sg mRNAs) or protein levels of N protein. The production of inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6) induced by TNF-α and SARS-CoV-2 infection is diminished in the presence of VPA. CONCLUSIONS: Our data showed that VPA blocks three essential processes determining the severity of COVID-19. It downregulates the expression of ACE2 and NRP1, reducing the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2; it decreases viral yields, probably because it affects virus budding or virions stability; and it dampens the triggered inflammatory response. Thus, administering VPA could be considered a safe treatment for COVID-19 patients until vaccines have been rolled out across the world.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/prevention & control , Epigenesis, Genetic/physiology , Neuropilin-1/genetics , Receptors, Virus/drug effects , Valproic Acid/pharmacology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/drug effects , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cells, Cultured , Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology , Epigenesis, Genetic/genetics , Humans , Neuropilin-1/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2
2.
Microbiol Spectr ; 9(2): e0135221, 2021 10 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1526454

ABSTRACT

The emerging new lineages of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) have marked a new phase of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Understanding the recognition mechanisms of potent neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (NAbs) against the spike protein is pivotal for developing new vaccines and antibody drugs. Here, we isolated several monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor-binding domain (S-RBD) from the B cell receptor repertoires of a SARS-CoV-2 convalescent. Among these MAbs, the antibody nCoV617 demonstrates the most potent neutralizing activity against authentic SARS-CoV-2 infection, as well as prophylactic and therapeutic efficacies against the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) transgenic mouse model in vivo. The crystal structure of S-RBD in complex with nCoV617 reveals that nCoV617 mainly binds to the back of the "ridge" of RBD and shares limited binding residues with ACE2. Under the background of the S-trimer model, it potentially binds to both "up" and "down" conformations of S-RBD. In vitro mutagenesis assays show that mutant residues found in the emerging new lineage B.1.1.7 of SARS-CoV-2 do not affect nCoV617 binding to the S-RBD. These results provide a new human-sourced neutralizing antibody against the S-RBD and assist vaccine development. IMPORTANCE COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious threat to global health and the economy, so it is necessary to find safe and effective antibody drugs and treatments. The receptor-binding domain (RBD) in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is responsible for binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. It contains a variety of dominant neutralizing epitopes and is an important antigen for the development of new coronavirus antibodies. The significance of our research lies in the determination of new epitopes, the discovery of antibodies against RBD, and the evaluation of the antibodies' neutralizing effect. The identified antibodies here may be drug candidates for the development of clinical interventions for SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral/therapeutic use , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/antagonists & inhibitors , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Binding Sites/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Crystallography, X-Ray , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Humans , Immunization, Passive/methods , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs/immunology , Viral Load/drug effects
3.
Front Immunol ; 12: 750386, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1515534

ABSTRACT

Antibodies targeting Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 have been suggested to account for the majority of neutralizing activity in COVID-19 convalescent sera and several neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) have been isolated, characterized and proposed as emergency therapeutics in the form of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). However, SARS-CoV-2 variants are rapidly spreading worldwide from the sites of initial identification. The variants of concern (VOC) B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma) and B.1.167.2 (Delta) showed mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein potentially able to cause escape from nAb responses with a consequent reduction of efficacy of vaccines and mAbs-based therapy. We produced the recombinant RBD (rRBD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein from the Wuhan-Hu 1 reference sequence in a mammalian system, for mice immunization to isolate new mAbs with neutralizing activity. Here we describe four mAbs that were able to bind the rRBD in Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay and the transmembrane full-length spike protein expressed in HEK293T cells by flow cytometry assay. Moreover, the mAbs recognized the RBD in supernatants of SARS-CoV-2 infected VERO E6 cells by Western Blot under non-reducing condition or in supernatants of cells infected with lentivirus pseudotyped for spike protein, by immunoprecipitation assay. Three out of four mAbs lost their binding efficiency to completely N-deglycosylated rRBD and none was able to bind the same recombinant protein expressed in Escherichia coli, suggesting that the epitopes recognized by three mAbs are generated by the conformational structure of the glycosylated native protein. Of particular relevance, three mAbs were able to inhibit Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 infection of VERO E6 cells in a plaque-reduction neutralization test and the Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 as well as the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta VOC in a pseudoviruses-based neutralization test. These mAbs represent important additional tools for diagnosis and therapy of COVID-19 and may contribute to the understanding of the functional structure of SARS-CoV-2 RBD.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/pharmacology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/pharmacology , Epitopes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Binding Sites, Antibody/immunology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Female , Glycosylation , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vero Cells
4.
Front Biosci (Landmark Ed) ; 26(10): 740-751, 2021 10 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1498507

ABSTRACT

Objectives: To quantify the integrated levels of ACE2 and TMPRSS2, the two well-recognized severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) entry-related genes, and to further identify key factors contributing to SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSC). Methods: We developed a metric of the potential for tissue infected with SARS-CoV-2 ("TPSI") based on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 transcript levels and compared TPSI levels between tumor and matched normal tissues across 11 tumor types. For further analysis of HNSC, weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA), functional analysis, and single sample gene set enrichment analysis (ssGSEA) were conducted to investigate TPSI-relevant biological processes and their relationship with the immune landscape. TPSI-related factors were identified from clinical and mutational domains, followed by lasso regression to determine their relative effects on TPSI levels. Results: TPSI levels in tumors were generally lower than in the normal tissues. In HNSC, the genes highly associated with TPSI were enriched in viral entry-related processes, and TPSI levels were positively correlated with both eosinophils and T helper 17 (Th17) cell infiltration. Furthermore, the site of onset, human papillomaviruses (HPV) status, and nuclear receptor binding SET domain protein 1 (NSD1) mutations were identified as the most important factors shaping TPSI levels. Conclusions: This study identified the infection risk of SARS-CoV-2 between tumor and normal tissues, and provided evidence for the risk stratification of HNSC.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/genetics , Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/genetics , Head and Neck Neoplasms/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/metabolism , Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/virology , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic , Gene Regulatory Networks , Head and Neck Neoplasms/metabolism , Head and Neck Neoplasms/virology , Humans , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Virus Internalization
5.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(21)2021 Oct 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1488609

ABSTRACT

A wide range of neurological manifestations have been associated with the development of COVID-19 following SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, the etiology of the neurological symptomatology is still largely unexplored. Here, we used state-of-the-art multiplexed immunostaining of human brains (n = 6 COVID-19, median age = 69.5 years; n = 7 control, median age = 68 years) and demonstrated that expression of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 is restricted to a subset of neurovascular pericytes. Strikingly, neurological symptoms were exclusive to, and ubiquitous in, patients that exhibited moderate to high ACE2 expression in perivascular cells. Viral dsRNA was identified in the vascular wall and paralleled by perivascular inflammation, as signified by T cell and macrophage infiltration. Furthermore, fibrinogen leakage indicated compromised integrity of the blood-brain barrier. Notably, cerebrospinal fluid from additional 16 individuals (n = 8 COVID-19, median age = 67 years; n = 8 control, median age = 69.5 years) exhibited significantly lower levels of the pericyte marker PDGFRß in SARS-CoV-2-infected cases, indicative of disrupted pericyte homeostasis. We conclude that pericyte infection by SARS-CoV-2 underlies virus entry into the privileged central nervous system space, as well as neurological symptomatology due to perivascular inflammation and a locally compromised blood-brain barrier.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Brain/virology , COVID-19/physiopathology , Encephalitis, Viral/virology , Pericytes/virology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Blood-Brain Barrier , Brain/pathology , COVID-19/etiology , Case-Control Studies , Encephalitis, Viral/pathology , Fibrinogen/metabolism , Humans , Immunohistochemistry/methods , Mice , Pericytes/metabolism , Pericytes/pathology , Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta/cerebrospinal fluid
6.
J Virol ; 95(19): e0068521, 2021 09 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1486511

ABSTRACT

The human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 acts as the host cell receptor for SARS-CoV-2 and the other members of the Coronaviridae family SARS-CoV-1 and HCoV-NL63. Here, we report the biophysical properties of the SARS-CoV-2 spike variants D614G, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 with affinities to the ACE2 receptor and infectivity capacity, revealing weaknesses in the developed neutralizing antibody approaches. Furthermore, we report a preclinical characterization package for a soluble receptor decoy engineered to be catalytically inactive and immunologically inert, with broad neutralization capacity, that represents an attractive therapeutic alternative in light of the mutational landscape of COVID-19. This construct efficiently neutralized four SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. The decoy also displays antibody-like biophysical properties and manufacturability, strengthening its suitability as a first-line treatment option in prophylaxis or therapeutic regimens for COVID-19 and related viral infections. IMPORTANCE Mutational drift of SARS-CoV-2 risks rendering both therapeutics and vaccines less effective. Receptor decoy strategies utilizing soluble human ACE2 may overcome the risk of viral mutational escape since mutations disrupting viral interaction with the ACE2 decoy will by necessity decrease virulence, thereby preventing meaningful escape. The solution described here of a soluble ACE2 receptor decoy is significant for the following reasons: while previous ACE2-based therapeutics have been described, ours has novel features, including (i) mutations within ACE2 to remove catalytical activity and systemic interference with the renin/angiotensin system, (ii) abrogated FcγR engagement, reduced risk of antibody-dependent enhancement of infection, and reduced risk of hyperinflammation, and (iii) streamlined antibody-like purification process and scale-up manufacturability indicating that this receptor decoy could be produced quickly and easily at scale. Finally, we demonstrate that ACE2-based therapeutics confer a broad-spectrum neutralization potency for ACE2-tropic viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in contrast to therapeutic MAb.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibody-Dependent Enhancement , COVID-19/immunology , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Kinetics , Mutation , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
7.
J Virol ; 95(16): e0061721, 2021 07 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1486509

ABSTRACT

The current pandemic of COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) is the critical determinant of viral tropism and infectivity. To investigate whether naturally occurring RBD mutations during the early transmission phase have altered the receptor binding affinity and infectivity, we first analyzed in silico the binding dynamics between SARS-CoV-2 RBD mutants and the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Among 32,123 genomes of SARS-CoV-2 isolates (December 2019 through March 2020), 302 nonsynonymous RBD mutants were identified and clustered into 96 mutant types. The six dominant mutations were analyzed applying molecular dynamics simulations (MDS). The mutant type V367F continuously circulating worldwide displayed higher binding affinity to human ACE2 due to the enhanced structural stabilization of the RBD beta-sheet scaffold. The MDS also indicated that it would be difficult for bat SARS-like CoV to infect humans. However, the pangolin CoV is potentially infectious to humans. The increased infectivity of V367 mutants was further validated by performing receptor-ligand binding enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), surface plasmon resonance, and pseudotyped virus assays. Phylogenetic analysis of the genomes of V367F mutants showed that during the early transmission phase, most V367F mutants clustered more closely with the SARS-CoV-2 prototype strain than the dual-mutation variants (V367F+D614G), which may derivate from recombination. The analysis of critical RBD mutations provides further insights into the evolutionary trajectory of early SARS-CoV-2 variants of zoonotic origin under negative selection pressure and supports the continuing surveillance of spike mutations to aid in the development of new COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. IMPORTANCE A novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused the pandemic of COVID-19. The origin of SARS-CoV-2 was associated with zoonotic infections. The spike protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) is identified as the critical determinant of viral tropism and infectivity. Thus, whether mutations in the RBD of the circulating SARS-CoV-2 isolates have altered the receptor binding affinity and made them more infectious has been the research hot spot. Given that SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus, the significance of our research is in identifying and validating the RBD mutant types emerging during the early transmission phase and increasing human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor binding affinity and infectivity. Our study provides insights into the evolutionary trajectory of early SARS-CoV-2 variants of zoonotic origin. The continuing surveillance of RBD mutations with increased human ACE2 affinity in human or other animals is critical to the development of new COVID-19 drugs and vaccines against these variants during the sustained COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/transmission , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Binding Sites , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Gene Expression , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , Kinetics , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Phenylalanine/chemistry , Phenylalanine/metabolism , Phylogeny , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation, alpha-Helical , Protein Conformation, beta-Strand , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Thermodynamics , Valine/chemistry , Valine/metabolism , Virulence , Virus Attachment
8.
J Virol ; 95(13): e0019221, 2021 06 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1486499

ABSTRACT

Understanding factors that affect the infectivity of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is central to combatting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The virus surface spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 mediates viral entry into cells by binding to the ACE2 receptor on epithelial cells and promoting fusion. We found that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) induces ACE2 expression when it enters the lytic replicative cycle in epithelial cells. By using vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) particles pseudotyped with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, we showed that lytic EBV replication enhances ACE2-dependent SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus entry. We found that the ACE2 promoter contains response elements for Zta, an EBV transcriptional activator that is essential for EBV entry into the lytic cycle of replication. Zta preferentially acts on methylated promoters, allowing it to reactivate epigenetically silenced EBV promoters from latency. By using promoter assays, we showed that Zta directly activates methylated ACE2 promoters. Infection of normal oral keratinocytes with EBV leads to lytic replication in some of the infected cells, induces ACE2 expression, and enhances SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus entry. These data suggest that subclinical EBV replication and lytic gene expression in epithelial cells, which is ubiquitous in the human population, may enhance the efficiency and extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection of epithelial cells by transcriptionally activating ACE2 and increasing its cell surface expression. IMPORTANCE SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, has caused a pandemic leading to millions of infections and deaths worldwide. Identifying the factors governing susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 is important in order to develop strategies to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection. We show that Epstein-Barr virus, which infects and persists in >90% of adult humans, increases susceptibility of epithelial cells to infection by SARS-CoV-2. EBV, when it reactivates from latency or infects epithelial cells, increases expression of ACE2, the cellular receptor for SARS-CoV-2, enhancing infection by SARS-CoV-2. Inhibiting EBV replication with antivirals may therefore decrease susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Epithelial Cells/virology , Herpesvirus 4, Human/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Internalization , Virus Replication , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Cell Line , DNA Methylation , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Promoter Regions, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Trans-Activators/metabolism , Virus Activation
9.
PLoS One ; 16(9): e0257016, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1484849

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Activation of the immune system is implicated in the Post-Acute Sequelae after SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) but the mechanisms remain unknown. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) cleaves angiotensin II (Ang II) resulting in decreased activation of the AT1 receptor and decreased immune system activation. We hypothesized that autoantibodies against ACE2 may develop after SARS-CoV-2 infection, as anti-idiotypic antibodies to anti-spike protein antibodies. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We tested plasma or serum for ACE2 antibodies in 67 patients with known SARS-CoV-2 infection and 13 with no history of infection. None of the 13 patients without history of SARS-CoV-2 infection and 1 of the 20 outpatients that had a positive PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 had levels of ACE2 antibodies above the cutoff threshold. In contrast, 26/32 (81%) in the convalescent group and 14/15 (93%) of patients acutely hospitalized had detectable ACE2 antibodies. Plasma from patients with antibodies against ACE2 had less soluble ACE2 activity in plasma but similar amounts of ACE2 protein compared to patients without ACE2 antibodies. We measured the capacity of the samples to inhibit ACE2 enzyme activity. Addition of plasma from patients with ACE2 antibodies led to decreased activity of an exogenous preparation of ACE2 compared to patients that did not have antibodies. CONCLUSIONS: Many patients with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection have antibodies specific for ACE2. Patients with ACE2 antibodies have lower activity of soluble ACE2 in plasma. Plasma from these patients also inhibits exogenous ACE2 activity. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that ACE2 antibodies develop after SARS-CoV-2 infection and decrease ACE2 activity. This could lead to an increase in the abundance of Ang II, which causes a proinflammatory state that triggers symptoms of PASC.


Subject(s)
Autoantibodies/blood , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/blood , Angiotensin II/blood , Angiotensin II/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Autoantibodies/immunology , Autoantibodies/isolation & purification , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/virology , Female , Humans , Male , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/blood , Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1/blood , Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1/genetics , Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1/immunology , Renin-Angiotensin System/genetics , Renin-Angiotensin System/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/isolation & purification
10.
MAbs ; 13(1): 1987180, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1483313

ABSTRACT

The global health crisis and economic tolls of COVID-19 necessitate a panoply of strategies to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection. To date, few treatment options exist, although neutralizing antibodies against the spike glycoprotein have proven to be effective. Because infection is initiated at the mucosa and propagates mainly at this site throughout the course of the disease, blocking the virus at the mucosal milieu should be effective. However, administration of biologics to the mucosa presents a substantial challenge. Here, we describe bifunctional molecules combining single-domain variable regions that bind to the polymeric Ig receptor (pIgR) and to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein via addition of the ACE2 extracellular domain (ECD). The hypothesis behind this design is that pIgR will transport the molecule from the circulation to the mucosal surface where the ACE ECD would act as a decoy receptor for the nCoV2. The bifunctional molecules bind SARS-Cov-2 spike glycoprotein in vitro and efficiently transcytose across the lung epithelium in human tissue-based analyses. Designs featuring ACE2 tethered to the C-terminus of the Fc do not induce antibody-dependent cytotoxicity against pIgR-expressing cells. These molecules thus represent a potential therapeutic modality for systemic administration of neutralizing anti-SARS-CoV-2 molecules to the mucosa.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/drug therapy , Receptors, Polymeric Immunoglobulin , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Single-Chain Antibodies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/genetics , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/pharmacology , CHO Cells , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Cricetulus , Dogs , Female , Humans , Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells , Mice , Mouth Mucosa/immunology , Protein Domains , Receptors, Polymeric Immunoglobulin/genetics , Receptors, Polymeric Immunoglobulin/immunology , Receptors, Polymeric Immunoglobulin/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Single-Chain Antibodies/genetics , Single-Chain Antibodies/immunology , Single-Chain Antibodies/pharmacokinetics , Single-Chain Antibodies/pharmacology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/antagonists & inhibitors , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Swine
11.
Front Immunol ; 12: 741502, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1477825

ABSTRACT

Host innate immune response follows severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, and it is the driver of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) amongst other inflammatory end-organ morbidities. Such life-threatening coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is heralded by virus-induced activation of mononuclear phagocytes (MPs; monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells). MPs play substantial roles in aberrant immune secretory activities affecting profound systemic inflammation and end-organ malfunctions. All follow the presence of persistent viral components and virions without evidence of viral replication. To elucidate SARS-CoV-2-MP interactions we investigated transcriptomic and proteomic profiles of human monocyte-derived macrophages. While expression of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, paralleled monocyte-macrophage differentiation, it failed to affect productive viral infection. In contrast, simple macrophage viral exposure led to robust pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression but attenuated type I interferon (IFN) activity. Both paralleled dysregulation of innate immune signaling pathways, specifically those linked to IFN. We conclude that the SARS-CoV-2-infected host mounts a robust innate immune response characterized by a pro-inflammatory storm heralding end-organ tissue damage.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Immunity, Innate , Macrophages/virology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/metabolism , Cells, Cultured , Cytokines/genetics , Cytokines/metabolism , Gene Expression Profiling , Gene Regulatory Networks , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Immunity, Innate/genetics , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism , Macrophages/immunology , Macrophages/metabolism , Proteome , Proteomics , Receptors, Virus/genetics , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Signal Transduction , Transcriptome
12.
Biol Direct ; 16(1): 20, 2021 10 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1477450

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 infection could cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, largely attributed to dysregulated immune activation and extensive lung tissue damage. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Here, we reported that viral infection could induce syncytia formation within cells expressing ACE2 and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, leading to the production of micronuclei with an average rate of about 4 per syncytium (> 93%). Remarkably, these micronuclei were manifested with a high level of activation of both DNA damage response and cGAS-STING signaling, as indicated by micronucleus translocation of γH2Ax and cGAS, and upregulation of their respective downstream target genes. Since activation of these signaling pathways were known to be associated with cellular catastrophe and aberrant immune activation, these findings help explain the pathological effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection at cellular and molecular levels, and provide novel potential targets for COVID-19 therapy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/metabolism , DNA Damage , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , Nucleotidyltransferases/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Giant Cells/metabolism , Giant Cells/virology , HeLa Cells , Humans , Micronucleus Tests , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Signal Transduction , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
13.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 6103, 2021 10 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1475296

ABSTRACT

Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) have been emerging and some have been linked to an increase in case numbers globally. However, there is yet a lack of understanding of the molecular basis for the interactions between the human ACE2 (hACE2) receptor and these VOCs. Here we examined several VOCs including Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, and demonstrate that five variants receptor-binding domain (RBD) increased binding affinity for hACE2, and four variants pseudoviruses increased entry into susceptible cells. Crystal structures of hACE2-RBD complexes help identify the key residues facilitating changes in hACE2 binding affinity. Additionally, soluble hACE2 protein efficiently prevent most of the variants pseudoviruses. Our findings provide important molecular information and may help the development of novel therapeutic and prophylactic agents targeting these emerging mutants.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/isolation & purification , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/ultrastructure , Animals , Cell Line, Tumor , Crystallography, X-Ray , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Mutation , Recombinant Proteins/genetics , Recombinant Proteins/isolation & purification , Recombinant Proteins/metabolism , Recombinant Proteins/ultrastructure , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sf9 Cells , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/ultrastructure , Spodoptera , Surface Plasmon Resonance , Virus Attachment , Virus Internalization
14.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 6097, 2021 10 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1475295

ABSTRACT

Effective treatments against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are urgently needed. Monoclonal antibodies have shown promising results in patients. Here, we evaluate the in vivo prophylactic and therapeutic effect of COVA1-18, a neutralizing antibody highly potent against the B.1.1.7 isolate. In both prophylactic and therapeutic settings, SARS-CoV-2 remains undetectable in the lungs of treated hACE2 mice. Therapeutic treatment also causes a reduction in viral loads in the lungs of Syrian hamsters. When administered at 10 mg kg-1 one day prior to a high dose SARS-CoV-2 challenge in cynomolgus macaques, COVA1-18 shows very strong antiviral activity in the upper respiratory compartments. Using a mathematical model, we estimate that COVA1-18 reduces viral infectivity by more than 95% in these compartments, preventing lymphopenia and extensive lung lesions. Our findings demonstrate that COVA1-18 has a strong antiviral activity in three preclinical models and could be a valuable candidate for further clinical evaluation.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/pharmacokinetics , Antiviral Agents/pharmacokinetics , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Disease Models, Animal , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Female , Humans , Lung/metabolism , Lung/virology , Macaca fascicularis , Male , Mesocricetus , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Tissue Distribution , Viral Load
15.
J Immunol ; 207(10): 2521-2533, 2021 11 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1468558

ABSTRACT

Many patients with coronavirus disease 2019 in intensive care units suffer from cytokine storm. Although anti-inflammatory therapies are available to treat the problem, very often, these treatments cause immunosuppression. Because angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) on host cells serves as the receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), to delineate a SARS-CoV-2-specific anti-inflammatory molecule, we designed a hexapeptide corresponding to the spike S1-interacting domain of ACE2 receptor (SPIDAR) that inhibited the expression of proinflammatory molecules in human A549 lung cells induced by pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2, but not vesicular stomatitis virus. Accordingly, wild-type (wt), but not mutated (m), SPIDAR inhibited SARS-CoV-2 spike S1-induced activation of NF-κB and expression of IL-6 and IL-1ß in human lung cells. However, wtSPIDAR remained unable to reduce activation of NF-κB and expression of proinflammatory molecules in lungs cells induced by TNF-α, HIV-1 Tat, and viral dsRNA mimic polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid, indicating the specificity of the effect. The wtSPIDAR, but not mutated SPIDAR, also hindered the association between ACE2 and spike S1 of SARS-CoV-2 and inhibited the entry of pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2, but not vesicular stomatitis virus, into human ACE2-expressing human embryonic kidney 293 cells. Moreover, intranasal treatment with wtSPIDAR, but not mutated SPIDAR, inhibited lung activation of NF-κB, protected lungs, reduced fever, improved heart function, and enhanced locomotor activities in SARS-CoV-2 spike S1-intoxicated mice. Therefore, selective targeting of SARS-CoV-2 spike S1-to-ACE2 interaction by wtSPIDAR may be beneficial for coronavirus disease 2019.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/therapy , Lung/immunology , Peptides/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , A549 Cells , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , COVID-19/immunology , Cytokines/metabolism , Female , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism , Locomotion , Male , Mice , Molecular Targeted Therapy , NF-kappa B/metabolism , Peptides/genetics , Peptides/therapeutic use , Signal Transduction , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
16.
Front Immunol ; 12: 718136, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1468341

ABSTRACT

Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a receptor for the spike protein of SARS-COV-2 that allows viral binding and entry and is expressed on the surface of several pulmonary and non-pulmonary cell types, with induction of a "cytokine storm" upon binding. Other cell types present the receptor and can be infected, including cardiac, renal, intestinal, and endothelial cells. High ACE2 levels protect from inflammation. Despite the relevance of ACE2 levels in COVID-19 pathogenesis, experimental studies to comprehensively address the question of ACE2 regulations are still limited. A relevant observation from the clinic is that, besides the pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6 and IL-1ß, the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 is also elevated in worse prognosis patients. This could represent somehow a "danger signal", an alarmin from the host organism, given the immuno-regulatory properties of the cytokine. Here, we investigated whether IL-10 could increase ACE2 expression in the lung-derived Calu-3 cell line. We provided preliminary evidence of ACE2 mRNA increase in cells of lung origin in vitro, following IL-10 treatment. Endothelial cell infection by SARS-COV-2 is associated with vasculitis, thromboembolism, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. We confirmed ACE2 expression enhancement by IL-10 treatment also on endothelial cells. The sartans (olmesartan and losartan) showed non-statistically significant ACE2 modulation in Calu-3 and endothelial cells, as compared to untreated control cells. We observed that the antidiabetic biguanide metformin, a putative anti-inflammatory agent, also upregulates ACE2 expression in Calu-3 and endothelial cells. We hypothesized that IL-10 could be a danger signal, and its elevation could possibly represent a feedback mechanism fighting inflammation. Although further confirmatory studies are required, inducing IL-10 upregulation could be clinically relevant in COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and vasculitis, by reinforcing ACE2 levels.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/enzymology , Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells/drug effects , Interleukin-10/pharmacology , Lung/drug effects , RNA, Messenger/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Cell Line , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells/enzymology , Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells/immunology , Humans , Lung/enzymology , Lung/immunology , Metformin/pharmacology , RNA, Messenger/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Up-Regulation
17.
Open Biol ; 11(10): 210213, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1462586

ABSTRACT

The etiopathogenesis of COVID-19 and its differential geographic spread suggest some populations are apparently 'less affected' through many host-related factors that involve angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) protein, which is also the entry receptor for SARS-CoV-2. The role of ACE2 has been well studied in COVID-19 but not in the context of malaria and COVID-19. We have previously suggested how malaria might intersect with COVID-19 through ACE2 mutation and here we evaluate the currently available data that could provide a link between the two diseases. Based on the existing global and Indian data on malaria, COVID-19 and the suggested ACE2 mutation, the association could not be examined robustly, neither accepting nor refuting the suggested hypothesis. We strongly recommend targeted evaluation of this hypothesis through carefully designed robust molecular epidemiological studies.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/epidemiology , Malaria/complications , Malaria/epidemiology , Alleles , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Genetic Variation , Geography , Global Health , Humans , India , Mutation
18.
Comput Biol Med ; 138: 104936, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1458824

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Reports of new variants that potentially increase virulence and viral transmission, as well as reduce the efficacy of available vaccines, have recently emerged. In this study, we computationally analyzed the N439K, S477 N, and T478K variants for their ability to bind Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). We used the protein-protein docking approach to explore whether the three variants displayed a higher binding affinity to the ACE2 receptor than the wild type. We found that these variants alter the hydrogen bonding network and the cluster of interactions. Additional salt bridges, hydrogen bonds, and a high number of non-bonded contacts (i.e., non-bonded interactions between atoms in the same molecule and those in other molecules) were observed only in the mutant complexes, allowing efficient binding to the ACE2 receptor. Furthermore, we used a 2.0-µs all-atoms simulation approach to detect differences in the structural dynamic features of the resulting protein complexes. Our findings revealed that the mutant complexes possessed stable dynamics, consistent with the global trend of mutations yielding variants with improved stability and enhanced affinity. Binding energy calculations based on molecular mechanics/generalized Born surface area (MM/GBSA) further revealed that electrostatic interactions principally increased net binding energies. The stability and binding energies of N439K, S477 N, and T478K variants were enhanced compared to the wild-type-ACE2 complex. The net binding energy of the systems was -31.86 kcal/mol for the wild-type-ACE2 complex, -67.85 kcal/mol for N439K, -69.82 kcal/mol for S477 N, and -69.64 kcal/mol for T478K. The current study provides a basis for exploring the enhanced binding abilities and structural features of SARS-CoV-2 variants to design novel therapeutics against the virus.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Computational Biology , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
19.
J Immunol ; 207(10): 2399-2404, 2021 11 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1450887

ABSTRACT

Immunity to pulmonary infection typically requires elicitation of lung-resident T cells that subsequently confer protection against secondary infection. The presence of tissue-resident T cells in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) convalescent patients is unknown. Using a sublethal mouse model of coronavirus disease 2019, we determined if SARS-CoV-2 infection potentiated Ag-specific pulmonary resident CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses and if these cells mediated protection against secondary infection. S protein-specific T cells were present in resident and circulating populations. However, M and N protein-specific T cells were detected only in the resident T cell pool. Using an adoptive transfer strategy, we found that T cells from SARS-CoV-2 immune animals did not protect naive mice. These data indicate that resident T cells are elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection but are not sufficient for protective immunity.


Subject(s)
CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Lung/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Adoptive Transfer , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Cells, Cultured , Disease Models, Animal , Disease Resistance , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Cell Antigen Receptor Specificity
20.
Respir Res ; 22(1): 200, 2021 Jul 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1450712

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The first step in SARS-CoV-2 infection is binding of the virus to angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) on the airway epithelium. Asthma affects over 300 million people world-wide, many of whom may encounter SARS-CoV-2. Epidemiologic data suggests that asthmatics who get infected may be at increased risk of more severe disease. Our objective was to assess whether maintenance inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), a major treatment for asthma, is associated with airway ACE2 expression in asthmatics. METHODS: Large airway epithelium (LAE) of asthmatics treated with maintenance ICS (ICS+), asthmatics not treated with ICS (ICS-), and healthy controls (controls) was analyzed for expression of ACE2 and other coronavirus infection-related genes using microarrays. RESULTS: As a group, there was no difference in LAE ACE2 expression in all asthmatics vs controls. In contrast, subgroup analysis demonstrated that LAE ACE2 expression was higher in asthmatics ICS+ compared to ICS‾ and ACE2 expression was higher in male ICS+ compared to female ICS+ and ICS‾ of either sex. ACE2 expression did not correlate with serum IgE, absolute eosinophil level, or change in FEV1 in response to bronchodilators in either ICS- or ICS+. CONCLUSION: Airway ACE2 expression is increased in asthmatics on long-term treatment with ICS, an observation that should be taken into consideration when assessing the use of inhaled corticosteroids during the pandemic.


Subject(s)
Adrenal Cortex Hormones/administration & dosage , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Asthma/drug therapy , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , Respiratory Mucosa/drug effects , Administration, Inhalation , Adrenal Cortex Hormones/adverse effects , Adult , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Asthma/diagnosis , Asthma/enzymology , Asthma/genetics , COVID-19/enzymology , COVID-19/virology , Case-Control Studies , Female , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Receptors, Virus/genetics , Respiratory Mucosa/enzymology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Time Factors , Up-Regulation , Virus Internalization , Young Adult
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