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1.
Viruses ; 14(2)2022 02 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1715772

ABSTRACT

Enterovirus genus has over one hundred genotypes and could cause several kinds of severe animal and human diseases. Understanding the role of conserved residues in the VP1 capsid protein among the enterovirus genus may lead to anti-enteroviral drug development. The highly conserved residues were found to be located at the loop and ß-barrel intersections. To elucidate the role of these VP1 residues among the enterovirus genus, alanine substitution reverse genetics (rg) variants were generated, and virus properties were investigated for their impact. Six highly conserved residues were identified as located near the inside of the canyon, and four of them were close to the ß-barrel and loop intersection. The variants rgVP1-R86A, rgVP1-P193A, rgVP1-G231A, and rgVP1-K256A were unable to be obtained, which may be due to disruption in the virus replication process. In contrast, rgVP1-E134A and rgVP1-P157A replicated well and rgVP1-P157A showed smaller plaque size, lower viral growth kinetics, and thermal instability at 39.5°C when compared to the rg wild type virus. These findings showed that the conserved residues located at the ß-barrel and loop junction play roles in modulating viral replication, which may provide a pivotal role for pan-enteroviral inhibitor candidate.


Subject(s)
Capsid Proteins/chemistry , Enterovirus/physiology , Virus Replication , Amino Acid Sequence , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Capsid Proteins/genetics , Cell Line, Tumor , Conserved Sequence , Humans , Mutation , Protein Conformation , Protein Stability , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Temperature , Viral Load
2.
Microbiol Spectr ; 10(1): e0278021, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1700612

ABSTRACT

Understanding the immune response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is critical to overcome the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Efforts are being made to understand the potential cross-protective immunity of memory T cells, induced by prior encounters with seasonal coronaviruses, in providing protection against severe COVID-19. In this study we assessed T-cell responses directed against highly conserved regions of SARS-CoV-2. Epitope mapping revealed 16 CD8+ T-cell epitopes across the nucleocapsid (N), spike (S), and open reading frame (ORF)3a proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and five CD8+ T-cell epitopes encoded within the highly conserved regions of the ORF1ab polyprotein of SARS-CoV-2. Comparative sequence analysis showed high conservation of SARS-CoV-2 ORF1ab T-cell epitopes in seasonal coronaviruses. Paradoxically, the immune responses directed against the conserved ORF1ab epitopes were infrequent and subdominant in both convalescent and unexposed participants. This subdominant immune response was consistent with a low abundance of ORF1ab encoded proteins in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells. Overall, these observations suggest that while cross-reactive CD8+ T cells likely exist in unexposed individuals, they are not common and therefore are unlikely to play a significant role in providing broad preexisting immunity in the community. IMPORTANCE T cells play a critical role in protection against SARS-CoV-2. Despite being highly topical, the protective role of preexisting memory CD8+ T cells, induced by prior exposure to circulating common coronavirus strains, remains less clear. In this study, we established a robust approach to specifically assess T cell responses to highly conserved regions within SARS-CoV-2. Consistent with recent observations we demonstrate that recognition of these highly conserved regions is associated with an increased likelihood of milder disease. However, extending these observations we observed that recognition of these conserved regions is rare in both exposed and unexposed volunteers, which we believe is associated with the low abundance of these proteins in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells. These observations have important implications for the likely role preexisting immunity plays in controlling severe disease, further emphasizing the importance of vaccination to generate the immunodominant T cells required for immune protection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Amino Acid Sequence , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Conserved Sequence , Coronavirus/chemistry , Coronavirus/classification , Coronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Cross Reactions , Epitope Mapping , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/chemistry , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/genetics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Sequence Alignment , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
3.
Nucleic Acids Res ; 50(2): 1017-1032, 2022 01 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1574599

ABSTRACT

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the necessity for a more fundamental understanding of the coronavirus life cycle. The causative agent of the disease, SARS-CoV-2, is being studied extensively from a structural standpoint in order to gain insight into key molecular mechanisms required for its survival. Contained within the untranslated regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome are various conserved stem-loop elements that are believed to function in RNA replication, viral protein translation, and discontinuous transcription. While the majority of these regions are variable in sequence, a 41-nucleotide s2m element within the genome 3' untranslated region is highly conserved among coronaviruses and three other viral families. In this study, we demonstrate that the SARS-CoV-2 s2m element dimerizes by forming an intermediate homodimeric kissing complex structure that is subsequently converted to a thermodynamically stable duplex conformation. This process is aided by the viral nucleocapsid protein, potentially indicating a role in mediating genome dimerization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the s2m element interacts with multiple copies of host cellular microRNA (miRNA) 1307-3p. Taken together, our results highlight the potential significance of the dimer structures formed by the s2m element in key biological processes and implicate the motif as a possible therapeutic drug target for COVID-19 and other coronavirus-related diseases.


Subject(s)
3' Untranslated Regions/genetics , COVID-19/genetics , MicroRNAs/genetics , Nucleotide Motifs/genetics , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Base Sequence , Binding Sites/genetics , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Conserved Sequence/genetics , Dimerization , Genome, Viral/genetics , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , MicroRNAs/metabolism , Nucleic Acid Conformation , Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy/methods , RNA, Viral/chemistry , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology
4.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(52)2021 12 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1565770

ABSTRACT

The constant emergence of COVID-19 variants reduces the effectiveness of existing vaccines and test kits. Therefore, it is critical to identify conserved structures in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) genomes as potential targets for variant-proof diagnostics and therapeutics. However, the algorithms to predict these conserved structures, which simultaneously fold and align multiple RNA homologs, scale at best cubically with sequence length and are thus infeasible for coronaviruses, which possess the longest genomes (∼30,000 nt) among RNA viruses. As a result, existing efforts on modeling SARS-CoV-2 structures resort to single-sequence folding as well as local folding methods with short window sizes, which inevitably neglect long-range interactions that are crucial in RNA functions. Here we present LinearTurboFold, an efficient algorithm for folding RNA homologs that scales linearly with sequence length, enabling unprecedented global structural analysis on SARS-CoV-2. Surprisingly, on a group of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-related genomes, LinearTurboFold's purely in silico prediction not only is close to experimentally guided models for local structures, but also goes far beyond them by capturing the end-to-end pairs between 5' and 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) (∼29,800 nt apart) that match perfectly with a purely experimental work. Furthermore, LinearTurboFold identifies undiscovered conserved structures and conserved accessible regions as potential targets for designing efficient and mutation-insensitive small-molecule drugs, antisense oligonucleotides, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), CRISPR-Cas13 guide RNAs, and RT-PCR primers. LinearTurboFold is a general technique that can also be applied to other RNA viruses and full-length genome studies and will be a useful tool in fighting the current and future pandemics.


Subject(s)
Algorithms , RNA, Viral/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Conserved Sequence , Genome, Viral , Mutation , Nucleic Acid Conformation , RNA Folding , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sequence Alignment
5.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(49)2021 12 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541316

ABSTRACT

As coronaviruses (CoVs) replicate in the host cell cytoplasm, they rely on their own capping machinery to ensure the efficient translation of their messenger RNAs (mRNAs), protect them from degradation by cellular 5' exoribonucleases (ExoNs), and escape innate immune sensing. The CoV nonstructural protein 14 (nsp14) is a bifunctional replicase subunit harboring an N-terminal 3'-to-5' ExoN domain and a C-terminal (N7-guanine)-methyltransferase (N7-MTase) domain that is presumably involved in viral mRNA capping. Here, we aimed to integrate structural, biochemical, and virological data to assess the importance of conserved N7-MTase residues for nsp14's enzymatic activities and virus viability. We revisited the crystal structure of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV nsp14 to perform an in silico comparative analysis between betacoronaviruses. We identified several residues likely involved in the formation of the N7-MTase catalytic pocket, which presents a fold distinct from the Rossmann fold observed in most known MTases. Next, for SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV, site-directed mutagenesis of selected residues was used to assess their importance for in vitro enzymatic activity. Most of the engineered mutations abolished N7-MTase activity, while not affecting nsp14-ExoN activity. Upon reverse engineering of these mutations into different betacoronavirus genomes, we identified two substitutions (R310A and F426A in SARS-CoV nsp14) abrogating virus viability and one mutation (H424A) yielding a crippled phenotype across all viruses tested. Our results identify the N7-MTase as a critical enzyme for betacoronavirus replication and define key residues of its catalytic pocket that can be targeted to design inhibitors with a potential pan-coronaviral activity spectrum.


Subject(s)
Exoribonucleases/chemistry , Models, Molecular , Protein Conformation , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/chemistry , Amino Acid Sequence , Base Sequence , Binding Sites , Catalytic Domain , Conserved Sequence , Exoribonucleases/genetics , Exoribonucleases/metabolism , Microbial Viability , Nucleotide Motifs , RNA, Viral/chemistry , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA-Binding Proteins , Structure-Activity Relationship , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Virus Replication/genetics
6.
Nature ; 600(7887): 133-137, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1521757

ABSTRACT

Coronaviruses have caused three major epidemics since 2003, including the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In each case, the emergence of coronavirus in our species has been associated with zoonotic transmissions from animal reservoirs1,2, underscoring how prone such pathogens are to spill over and adapt to new species. Among the four recognized genera of the family Coronaviridae, human infections reported so far have been limited to alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses3-5. Here we identify porcine deltacoronavirus strains in plasma samples of three Haitian children with acute undifferentiated febrile illness. Genomic and evolutionary analyses reveal that human infections were the result of at least two independent zoonoses of distinct viral lineages that acquired the same mutational signature in the genes encoding Nsp15 and the spike glycoprotein. In particular, structural analysis predicts that one of the changes in the spike S1 subunit, which contains the receptor-binding domain, may affect the flexibility of the protein and its binding to the host cell receptor. Our findings highlight the potential for evolutionary change and adaptation leading to human infections by coronaviruses outside of the previously recognized human-associated coronavirus groups, particularly in settings where there may be close human-animal contact.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Deltacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Swine/virology , Viral Zoonoses/epidemiology , Viral Zoonoses/virology , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Bayes Theorem , Child , Chlorocebus aethiops , Conserved Sequence , Coronavirus Infections/blood , Deltacoronavirus/classification , Deltacoronavirus/genetics , Deltacoronavirus/pathogenicity , Female , Haiti/epidemiology , Humans , Male , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Phylogeny , Vero Cells , Viral Zoonoses/blood
7.
Immunity ; 54(12): 2908-2921.e6, 2021 12 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1521063

ABSTRACT

Viral mutations are an emerging concern in reducing SARS-CoV-2 vaccination efficacy. Second-generation vaccines will need to elicit neutralizing antibodies against sites that are evolutionarily conserved across the sarbecovirus subgenus. Here, we immunized mice containing a human antibody repertoire with diverse sarbecovirus receptor-binding domains (RBDs) to identify antibodies targeting conserved sites of vulnerability. Antibodies with broad reactivity against diverse clade B RBDs targeting the conserved class 4 epitope, with recurring IGHV/IGKV pairs, were readily elicited but were non-neutralizing. However, rare class 4 antibodies binding this conserved RBD supersite showed potent neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 and all variants of concern. Structural analysis revealed that the neutralizing ability of cross-reactive antibodies was reserved only for those with an elongated CDRH3 that extends the antiparallel beta-sheet RBD core and orients the antibody light chain to obstruct ACE2-RBD interactions. These results identify a structurally defined pathway for vaccine strategies eliciting escape-resistant SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/physiology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , SARS Virus/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Conserved Sequence/genetics , Evolution, Molecular , Humans , Immunization , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Protein Binding , Protein Domains/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
8.
Front Immunol ; 12: 707977, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1457901

ABSTRACT

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 is a huge public health crisis for the globe. The receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein plays a vital role in viral infection and serves as a major target for developing neutralizing antibodies. In this study, the antibody response to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 S protein was analyzed by a panel of sera from animals immunized with RBD-based antigens and four linear B-cell epitope peptides (R345, R405, R450 and R465) were revealed. The immunogenicity of three immunodominant peptides (R345, R405, R465) was further accessed by peptide immunization in mice, and all of them could induced potent antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 S protein, indicating that the three determinants in the RBD were immunogenic. We further generated and characterized monoclonal antibodies (15G9, 12C10 and 10D2) binding to these epitope peptides, and finely mapped the three immunodominant epitopes using the corresponding antibodies. Neutralization assays showed that all three monoclonal antibodies had neutralization activity. Results from IFA and western blotting showed that 12C10 was a cross-reactive antibody against both of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV. Results from conservative and structural analysis showed that 350VYAWN354 was a highly conserved epitope and exposed on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 S trimer, whereas 473YQAGSTP479 located in the receptor binding motif (RBM) was variable among different SARS-CoV-2 strains. 407VRQIAP412 was a highly conserved, but cryptic epitope shared between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV. These findings provide important information for understanding the humoral antibody response to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 S protein and may facilitate further efforts to design SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and the target of COVID-19 diagnostic.


Subject(s)
B-Lymphocytes/immunology , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/metabolism , Peptides/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Amino Acid Motifs/genetics , Antibodies, Monoclonal/metabolism , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , COVID-19 Vaccines , Conserved Sequence/genetics , Epitope Mapping , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/genetics , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunity, Humoral , Peptides/genetics , Protein Binding , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
9.
Cells ; 10(9)2021 09 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1408629

ABSTRACT

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are cell-released, nanometer-scaled, membrane-bound materials and contain diverse contents including proteins, small peptides, and nucleic acids. Once released, EVs can alter the microenvironment and regulate a myriad of cellular physiology components, including cell-cell communication, proliferation, differentiation, and immune responses against viral infection. Among the cargoes in the vesicles, small non-coding micro-RNAs (miRNAs) have received attention in that they can regulate the expression of a variety of human genes as well as external viral genes via binding to the complementary mRNAs. In this study, we tested the potential of EVs as therapeutic agents for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. First, we found that the mesenchymal stem-cell-derived EVs (MSC-EVs) enabled the rescue of the cytopathic effect of SARS-CoV-2 virus and the suppression of proinflammatory responses in the infected cells by inhibiting the viral replication. We found that these anti-viral responses were mediated by 17 miRNAs matching the rarely mutated, conserved 3'-untranslated regions (UTR) of the viral genome. The top five miRNAs highly expressed in the MSC-EVs, miR-92a-3p, miR-26a-5p, miR-23a-3p, miR-103a-3p, and miR-181a-5p, were tested. They were bound to the complemented sequence which led to the recovery of the cytopathic effects. These findings suggest that the MSC-EVs are a potential candidate for multiple variants of anti-SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , Extracellular Vesicles/metabolism , Mesenchymal Stem Cells/metabolism , MicroRNAs/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , 3' Untranslated Regions/genetics , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Base Sequence , Cell Line , Conserved Sequence/genetics , Female , Genome, Viral , Humans , Models, Biological , Mutation/genetics , Placenta/metabolism , Pregnancy , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
10.
J Virol ; 95(14): e0011121, 2021 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1358015

ABSTRACT

The current fears of a future influenza pandemic have resulted in an increased emphasis on the development and testing of novel therapeutic strategies against the virus. Fundamental to this is the ferret model of influenza infection, which is critical in examining pathogenesis and treatment. Nevertheless, a precise evaluation of the efficacy of any treatment strategy in ferrets is reliant on understanding the immune response in this model. Interferon-inducible transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) are interferon-stimulated proteins shown to be critically important in the host immune response against viral infections. These proteins confer intrinsic innate immunity to pH-dependent viruses such as influenza viruses and can inhibit cytosolic entry of such viruses to limit the severity of infection following interferon upregulation. Mutations in IFITM genes in humans have been identified as key risk factors for worsened disease progression, particularly in the case of avian influenza viruses such as H7N9. While the IFITM genes of humans and mice have been well characterized, no studies have been conducted to classify the IFITM locus and interferon-driven upregulation of IFITMs in ferrets. Here, we show the architecture of the ferret IFITM locus and its synteny to the IFITM locus of other mammalian and avian species. Furthermore, we show that ferret IFITM1, -2, and -3 are functionally responsive to both interferon-α (IFN-α) and influenza virus stimulation. Thus, we show that ferret IFITMs exhibit interferon-stimulated properties similar to those shown in other species, furthering our knowledge of the innate immune response in the ferret model of human influenza virus infections. IMPORTANCE IFITM proteins can prevent the entry of several pH-dependent viruses, including high-consequence viruses such as HIV, influenza viruses, and SARS-coronaviruses. Mutations in these genes have been associated with worsened disease outcomes with mutations in their IFITM genes, highlighting these genes as potential disease risk factors. Ferrets provide a valuable tool to model infectious diseases; however, there is a critical shortage of information regarding their interferon-stimulated genes. We identified the putative ferret IFITM genes and mapped their complete gene locus. Thus, our study fills a critical gap in knowledge and supports the further use of the ferret model to explore the importance of IFITMs in these important diseases.


Subject(s)
Ferrets , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype , Interferon-alpha/metabolism , Membrane Proteins/genetics , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/immunology , Animals , Cell Line , Conserved Sequence , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets/immunology , Ferrets/metabolism , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Models, Molecular , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/genetics , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/metabolism , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Up-Regulation
11.
MAbs ; 13(1): 1953683, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1327301

ABSTRACT

The global pandemic of COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in widespread social and economic disruption. Effective interventions are urgently needed for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have demonstrated their prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, and several have been granted authorization for emergency use. Here, we discover and characterize a fully human cross-reactive mAb, MW06, which binds to both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) and disrupts their interaction with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors. Potential neutralization activity of MW06 was observed against both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV in different assays. The complex structure determination and epitope alignment of SARS-CoV-2 RBD/MW06 revealed that the epitope recognized by MW06 is highly conserved among SARS-related coronavirus strains, indicating the potential broad neutralization activity of MW06. In in vitro assays, no antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of SARS-CoV-2 infection was observed for MW06. In addition, MW06 recognizes a different epitope from MW05, which shows high neutralization activity and has been in a Phase 2 clinical trial, supporting the development of the cocktail of MW05 and MW06 to prevent against future escaping variants. MW06 alone and the cocktail show good effects in preventing escape mutations, including a series of variants of concern, B.1.1.7, P.1, B.1.351, and B.1.617.1. These findings suggest that MW06 recognizes a conserved epitope on SARS-CoV-2, which provides insights for the development of a universal antibody-based therapy against SARS-related coronavirus and emerging variant strains, and may be an effective anti-SARS-CoV-2 agent.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , SARS Virus/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Amino Acid Sequence , Antibodies, Monoclonal/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Neutralizing/chemistry , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral/chemistry , Antibodies, Viral/therapeutic use , Antibody-Dependent Enhancement , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/therapy , Conserved Sequence , Cross Reactions , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/genetics , Epitopes/immunology , Humans , Models, Molecular , Neutralization Tests , Pandemics , Protein Domains , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , SARS Virus/chemistry , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
12.
Genomics ; 113(5): 3174-3184, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1320193

ABSTRACT

As mutations in SARS-CoV-2 virus accumulate rapidly, novel primers that amplify this virus sensitively and specifically are in demand. We have developed a webserver named CoVrimer by which users can search for and align existing or newly designed conserved/degenerate primer pair sequences against the viral genome and assess the mutation load of both primers and amplicons. CoVrimer uses mutation data obtained from an online platform established by NGDC-CNCB (12 May 2021) to identify genomic regions, either conserved or with low levels of mutations, from which potential primer pairs are designed and provided to the user for filtering based on generalized and SARS-CoV-2 specific parameters. Alignments of primers and probes can be visualized with respect to the reference genome, indicating variant details and the level of conservation. Consequently, CoVrimer is likely to help researchers with the challenges posed by viral evolution and is freely available at http://konulabapps.bilkent.edu.tr:3838/CoVrimer/.


Subject(s)
DNA Primers/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sequence Analysis, DNA/methods , Software , Conserved Sequence , DNA Primers/genetics , Genome, Viral , Mutation
13.
J Virol ; 95(14): e0011121, 2021 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1287245

ABSTRACT

The current fears of a future influenza pandemic have resulted in an increased emphasis on the development and testing of novel therapeutic strategies against the virus. Fundamental to this is the ferret model of influenza infection, which is critical in examining pathogenesis and treatment. Nevertheless, a precise evaluation of the efficacy of any treatment strategy in ferrets is reliant on understanding the immune response in this model. Interferon-inducible transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) are interferon-stimulated proteins shown to be critically important in the host immune response against viral infections. These proteins confer intrinsic innate immunity to pH-dependent viruses such as influenza viruses and can inhibit cytosolic entry of such viruses to limit the severity of infection following interferon upregulation. Mutations in IFITM genes in humans have been identified as key risk factors for worsened disease progression, particularly in the case of avian influenza viruses such as H7N9. While the IFITM genes of humans and mice have been well characterized, no studies have been conducted to classify the IFITM locus and interferon-driven upregulation of IFITMs in ferrets. Here, we show the architecture of the ferret IFITM locus and its synteny to the IFITM locus of other mammalian and avian species. Furthermore, we show that ferret IFITM1, -2, and -3 are functionally responsive to both interferon-α (IFN-α) and influenza virus stimulation. Thus, we show that ferret IFITMs exhibit interferon-stimulated properties similar to those shown in other species, furthering our knowledge of the innate immune response in the ferret model of human influenza virus infections. IMPORTANCE IFITM proteins can prevent the entry of several pH-dependent viruses, including high-consequence viruses such as HIV, influenza viruses, and SARS-coronaviruses. Mutations in these genes have been associated with worsened disease outcomes with mutations in their IFITM genes, highlighting these genes as potential disease risk factors. Ferrets provide a valuable tool to model infectious diseases; however, there is a critical shortage of information regarding their interferon-stimulated genes. We identified the putative ferret IFITM genes and mapped their complete gene locus. Thus, our study fills a critical gap in knowledge and supports the further use of the ferret model to explore the importance of IFITMs in these important diseases.


Subject(s)
Ferrets , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype , Interferon-alpha/metabolism , Membrane Proteins/genetics , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/immunology , Animals , Cell Line , Conserved Sequence , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets/immunology , Ferrets/metabolism , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Models, Molecular , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/genetics , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/metabolism , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Up-Regulation
14.
Commun Biol ; 4(1): 698, 2021 06 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1260958

ABSTRACT

Given the global impact and severity of COVID-19, there is a pressing need for a better understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and mutations. Multi-strain sequence alignments of coronaviruses (CoV) provide important information for interpreting the genome and its variation. We apply a comparative genomics method, ConsHMM, to the multi-strain alignments of CoV to annotate every base of the SARS-CoV-2 genome with conservation states based on sequence alignment patterns among CoV. The learned conservation states show distinct enrichment patterns for genes, protein domains, and other regions of interest. Certain states are strongly enriched or depleted of SARS-CoV-2 mutations, which can be used to predict potentially consequential mutations. We expect the conservation states to be a resource for interpreting the SARS-CoV-2 genome and mutations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Genome, Viral , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Base Sequence , Conserved Sequence , Evolution, Molecular , Genomics , Humans , Mutation , Nucleotides/genetics , Sequence Alignment
15.
Genome Med ; 13(1): 62, 2021 04 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1191796

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The genome of SARS-CoV-2 is susceptible to mutations during viral replication due to the errors generated by RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. These mutations enable the SARS-CoV-2 to evolve into new strains. Viral quasispecies emerge from de novo mutations that occur in individual patients. In combination, these sets of viral mutations provide distinct genetic fingerprints that reveal the patterns of transmission and have utility in contact tracing. METHODS: Leveraging thousands of sequenced SARS-CoV-2 genomes, we performed a viral pangenome analysis to identify conserved genomic sequences. We used a rapid and highly efficient computational approach that relies on k-mers, short tracts of sequence, instead of conventional sequence alignment. Using this method, we annotated viral mutation signatures that were associated with specific strains. Based on these highly conserved viral sequences, we developed a rapid and highly scalable targeted sequencing assay to identify mutations, detect quasispecies variants, and identify mutation signatures from patients. These results were compared to the pangenome genetic fingerprints. RESULTS: We built a k-mer index for thousands of SARS-CoV-2 genomes and identified conserved genomics regions and landscape of mutations across thousands of virus genomes. We delineated mutation profiles spanning common genetic fingerprints (the combination of mutations in a viral assembly) and a combination of mutations that appear in only a small number of patients. We developed a targeted sequencing assay by selecting primers from the conserved viral genome regions to flank frequent mutations. Using a cohort of 100 SARS-CoV-2 clinical samples, we identified genetic fingerprints consisting of strain-specific mutations seen across populations and de novo quasispecies mutations localized to individual infections. We compared the mutation profiles of viral samples undergoing analysis with the features of the pangenome. CONCLUSIONS: We conducted an analysis for viral mutation profiles that provide the basis of genetic fingerprints. Our study linked pangenome analysis with targeted deep sequenced SARS-CoV-2 clinical samples. We identified quasispecies mutations occurring within individual patients and determined their general prevalence when compared to over 70,000 other strains. Analysis of these genetic fingerprints may provide a way of conducting molecular contact tracing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Genome, Viral , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Base Sequence , Conserved Sequence , DNA Fingerprinting , Humans , RNA, Viral , Sequence Analysis, RNA
16.
Infect Genet Evol ; 92: 104823, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1164208

ABSTRACT

The surge of SARS-CoV-2 has created a wave of pandemic around the globe due to its high transmission rate. To contain this virus, researchers are working around the clock for a solution in the form of vaccine. Due to the impact of this pandemic, the economy and healthcare have immensely suffered around the globe. Thus, an efficient vaccine design is the need of the hour. Moreover, to have a generalised vaccine for heterogeneous human population, the virus genomes from different countries should be considered. Thus, in this work, we have performed genome-wide analysis of 10,664 SARS-CoV-2 genomes of 73 countries around the globe in order to identify the potential conserved regions for the development of peptide based synthetic vaccine viz. epitopes with high immunogenic and antigenic scores. In this regard, multiple sequence alignment technique viz. Clustal Omega is used to align the 10,664 SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes. Thereafter, entropy is computed for each genomic coordinate of the aligned genomes. The entropy values are then used to find the conserved regions. These conserved regions are refined based on the criteria that their lengths should be greater than or equal to 60 nt and their corresponding protein sequences are without any stop codons. Furthermore, Nucleotide BLAST is used to verify the specificity of the conserved regions. As a result, we have obtained 17 conserved regions that belong to NSP3, NSP4, NSP6, NSP8, RdRp, Helicase, endoRNAse, 2'-O-RMT, Spike glycoprotein, ORF3a protein, Membrane glycoprotein and Nucleocapsid protein. Finally, these conserved regions are used to identify the T-cell and B-cell epitopes with their corresponding immunogenic and antigenic scores. Based on these scores, the most immunogenic and antigenic epitopes are then selected for each of these 17 conserved regions. Hence, we have obtained 30 MHC-I and 24 MHC-II restricted T-cell epitopes with 14 and 13 unique HLA alleles and 21 B-cell epitopes for the 17 conserved regions. Moreover, for validating the relevance of these epitopes, the binding conformation of the MHC-I and MHC-II restricted T-cell epitopes are shown with respect to HLA alleles. Also, the physico-chemical properties of the epitopes are reported along with Ramchandran plots and Z-Scores and the population coverage is shown as well. Overall, the analysis shows that the identified epitopes can be considered as potential candidates for vaccine design.


Subject(s)
Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/immunology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Antigens, Viral/immunology , Base Sequence , Conserved Sequence , Genome, Viral , Genome-Wide Association Study , Humans , Models, Molecular , Protein Conformation
17.
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci ; 25(3): 1708-1723, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1102757

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Recent pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2 is a global warning for the healthcare system. The spike protein of virus SARS-CoV-2 is significant because of two reasons. Firstly, the spike protein of this virus binds with the human ACE2 (hACE2) receptor. Secondly, it has several antigenic regions that might be targeted for vaccine development. However, the structural analytical data for the spike protein of this virus is not available. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Here, we performed an analysis to understand the structural two subunits of S glycoprotein (S gp) of SARS-CoV-2. Further, an analysis of secondary structure components and the tertiary structure analysis of RBD was carried out. We also performed molecular interaction analysis between S gp of this virus and hACE2 as well as between SARS-CoV S gp and hACE2 to compare the binding properties of these two viruses. RESULTS: We noted that the molecular interaction of SARS-CoV-2 S gp and hACE2 form eleven hydrogen bonds, while the molecular interaction of SARS-CoV S gp and hACE2 receptor form seven hydrogen bonds, indicating that the molecular interaction of SARS-CoV-2 S gp and hACE2 receptor is more stable than SARS-CoV S gp and hACE2 receptor. The pairwise sequence alignment of S gp SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 shows several conserved residues of these two proteins. Besides, conserved pattern analysis of SARS-CoV-2 S gp and hACE2 revealed the presence of several highly conserved regions for these two proteins. The molecular dynamics simulation shows a stable interplay between SARS-CoV-2 S gp with the hACE2 receptor. CONCLUSIONS: The present study might help determine the SARS-CoV-2 virus entrance mechanism into the human cell. Moreover, the understanding of the conserved regions may help in the process of therapeutic development from the infection of the deadly virus.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Computer Simulation , Conserved Sequence , Glycosylation , Humans , Hydrogen Bonding , Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Protein Structure, Secondary , Protein Structure, Tertiary , Protein Subunits
18.
Dev Growth Differ ; 63(3): 219-227, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1088005

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a pandemic as of early 2020. Upon infection, SARS-CoV-2 attaches to its receptor, that is, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), on the surface of host cells and is then internalized into host cells via enzymatic machineries. This subsequently stimulates immune response factors. Since the host immune response and severity of COVID-19 vary among individuals, genetic risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases have been investigated. Our research group recently conducted a survey of genetic variants among SARS-CoV-2-interacting molecules across populations, noting near absence of difference in allele frequency spectrum between populations in these genes. Recent genome-wide association studies have identified genetic risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases in a segment of chromosome 3 that involves six genes encoding three immune-regulatory chemokine receptors and another three molecules. The risk haplotype seemed to be inherited from Neanderthals, suggesting genetic adaptation against pathogens in modern human evolution. Therefore, SARS-CoV-2 uses highly conserved molecules as its virion interaction, whereas its immune response appears to be genetically biased in individuals to some extent. We herein review the molecular process of SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as our further survey of genetic variants of its related immune effectors. We also discuss aspects of modern human evolution.


Subject(s)
Adaptive Immunity , COVID-19 , Evolution, Molecular , Genetic Variation , Host-Pathogen Interactions , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adaptive Immunity/genetics , Adaptive Immunity/immunology , Animals , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Conserved Sequence , Genome-Wide Association Study , Host Adaptation/genetics , Host Adaptation/immunology , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Host-Pathogen Interactions/immunology , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Sequence Analysis, RNA
19.
Gene ; 771: 145368, 2021 Mar 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1077902

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), has become an immense threat to global public health. In this study, we performed complete genome sequencing of a SARS-CoV-2 isolate. More than 67,000 genome sequences were further inspected from Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). Using several in silico techniques, we proposed prospective therapeutics against this virus. Through meticulous analysis, several conserved and therapeutically suitable regions of SARS-CoV-2 such as RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), Spike (S) and Membrane glycoprotein (M) coding genes were selected. Both S and M were chosen for the development of a chimeric vaccine that can generate memory B and T cells. siRNAs were also designed for S and M gene silencing. Moreover, six new drug candidates were suggested that might inhibit the activity of RdRp. Since SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 have 82.30% sequence identity, a Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) dataset of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) patients were analyzed. In this analysis, 13 immunoregulatory genes were found that can be used to develop type 1 interferon (IFN) based therapy. The proposed vaccine, siRNAs, drugs and IFN based analysis of this study will accelerate the development of new treatments.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Computational Biology/methods , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Whole Genome Sequencing/methods , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/virology , Computer Simulation , Conserved Sequence , Coronavirus M Proteins/genetics , Drug Design , Female , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral/drug effects , Humans , Interferons/pharmacology , Middle Aged , Prospective Studies , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Sequence Analysis, RNA , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
20.
Sci Rep ; 10(1): 14214, 2020 08 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065924

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a major public health concern. A handful of static structures now provide molecular insights into how SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV interact with its host target, which is the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Molecular recognition, binding and function are dynamic processes. To evaluate this, multiple 500 ns or 1 µs all-atom molecular dynamics simulations were performed to better understand the structural stability and interfacial interactions between the receptor binding domain of the spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV bound to ACE2. Several contacts were observed to form, break and reform in the interface during the simulations. Our results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV utilizes unique strategies to achieve stable binding to ACE2. Several differences were observed between the residues of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV that consistently interacted with ACE2. Notably, a stable salt bridge between Lys417 of SARS-CoV-2 S protein and Asp30 of ACE2 as well as three stable hydrogen bonds between Tyr449, Gln493 and Gln498 of SARS-CoV-2 and Asp38, Glu35 and Lys353 of ACE2 were observed, which were absent in the ACE2-SARS-CoV interface. Some previously reported residues, which were suggested to enhance the binding affinity of SARS-CoV-2, were not observed to form stable interactions in these simulations. Molecular mechanics-generalized Born surface area based free energy of binding was observed to be higher for SARS-CoV-2 in all simulations. Stable binding to the host receptor is crucial for virus entry. Therefore, special consideration should be given to these stable interactions while designing potential drugs and treatment modalities to target or disrupt this interface.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/physiology , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS Virus/physiology , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/virology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Binding Sites , COVID-19 , Conserved Sequence , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Models, Molecular , Pandemics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/chemistry , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
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