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1.
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(4)2022 Feb 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1690219

ABSTRACT

The development of prophylactic agents against the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a public health priority in the search for new surrogate markers of active virus replication. Early detection markers are needed to follow disease progression and foresee patient negativization. Subgenomic RNA transcripts (with a focus on sgN) were evaluated in oro/nasopharyngeal swabs from COVID-19-affected patients with an analysis of 315 positive samples using qPCR technology. Cut-off Cq values for sgN (Cq < 33.15) and sgE (Cq < 34.06) showed correlations to high viral loads. The specific loss of sgN in home-isolated and hospitalized COVID-19-positive patients indicated negativization of patient condition, 3-7 days from the first swab, respectively. A new detection kit for sgN, gene E, gene ORF1ab, and gene RNAse P was developed recently. In addition, in vitro studies have shown that 2'-O-methyl antisense RNA (related to the sgN sequence) can impair SARS-CoV-2 N protein synthesis, viral replication, and syncytia formation in human cells (i.e., HEK-293T cells overexpressing ACE2) upon infection with VOC Alpha (B.1.1.7)-SARS-CoV-2 variant, defining the use that this procedure might have for future therapeutic actions against SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication/physiology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/analysis , Giant Cells/drug effects , Giant Cells/virology , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Limit of Detection , Nasopharynx/virology , Phosphoproteins/analysis , Phosphoproteins/genetics , RNA, Antisense/pharmacology , RNA, Viral , Ribonuclease P/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity , Social Isolation , Viral Load , Viroporin Proteins/genetics , Virus Replication/drug effects
2.
EMBO J ; 40(24): e108944, 2021 12 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1444546

ABSTRACT

Severe COVID-19 is characterized by lung abnormalities, including the presence of syncytial pneumocytes. Syncytia form when SARS-CoV-2 spike protein expressed on the surface of infected cells interacts with the ACE2 receptor on neighboring cells. The syncytia forming potential of spike variant proteins remain poorly characterized. Here, we first assessed Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Beta (B.1.351) spread and fusion in cell cultures, compared with the ancestral D614G strain. Alpha and Beta replicated similarly to D614G strain in Vero, Caco-2, Calu-3, and primary airway cells. However, Alpha and Beta formed larger and more numerous syncytia. Variant spike proteins displayed higher ACE2 affinity compared with D614G. Alpha, Beta, and D614G fusion was similarly inhibited by interferon-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs). Individual mutations present in Alpha and Beta spikes modified fusogenicity, binding to ACE2 or recognition by monoclonal antibodies. We further show that Delta spike also triggers faster fusion relative to D614G. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 emerging variants display enhanced syncytia formation.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Monoclonal/pharmacology , Giant Cells/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Animals , Caco-2 Cells , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Giant Cells/drug effects , Giant Cells/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects
3.
Nature ; 594(7861): 88-93, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1171428

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 is a disease with unique characteristics that include lung thrombosis1, frequent diarrhoea2, abnormal activation of the inflammatory response3 and rapid deterioration of lung function consistent with alveolar oedema4. The pathological substrate for these findings remains unknown. Here we show that the lungs of patients with COVID-19 contain infected pneumocytes with abnormal morphology and frequent multinucleation. The generation of these syncytia results from activation of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein at the cell plasma membrane level. On the basis of these observations, we performed two high-content microscopy-based screenings with more than 3,000 approved drugs to search for inhibitors of spike-driven syncytia. We converged on the identification of 83 drugs that inhibited spike-mediated cell fusion, several of which belonged to defined pharmacological classes. We focused our attention on effective drugs that also protected against virus replication and associated cytopathicity. One of the most effective molecules was the antihelminthic drug niclosamide, which markedly blunted calcium oscillations and membrane conductance in spike-expressing cells by suppressing the activity of TMEM16F (also known as anoctamin 6), a calcium-activated ion channel and scramblase that is responsible for exposure of phosphatidylserine on the cell surface. These findings suggest a potential mechanism for COVID-19 disease pathogenesis and support the repurposing of niclosamide for therapy.


Subject(s)
Anoctamins/antagonists & inhibitors , COVID-19/pathology , Cell Fusion , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Giant Cells/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/antagonists & inhibitors , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/drug effects , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/pathology , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/virology , Animals , Anoctamins/metabolism , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Calcium Signaling/drug effects , Cell Line , Chloride Channels/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Female , Giant Cells/metabolism , Giant Cells/virology , Humans , Lung/drug effects , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Male , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Replication/drug effects
4.
J Med Virol ; 92(10): 2087-2095, 2020 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-763177

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS CoV-2) is the causative agent of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Coronaviruses enter cells via fusion of the viral envelope with the plasma membrane and/or via fusion of the viral envelope with endosomal membranes after virion endocytosis. The spike (S) glycoprotein is a major determinant of virus infectivity. Herein, we show that the transient expression of the SARS CoV-2 S glycoprotein in Vero cells caused extensive cell fusion (formation of syncytia) in comparison to limited cell fusion caused by the SARS S glycoprotein. Both S glycoproteins were detected intracellularly and on transfected Vero cell surfaces. These results are in agreement with published pathology observations of extensive syncytia formation in lung tissues of patients with COVID-19. These results suggest that SARS CoV-2 is able to spread from cell-to-cell much more efficiently than SARS effectively avoiding extracellular neutralizing antibodies. A systematic screening of several drugs including cardiac glycosides and kinase inhibitors and inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) entry revealed that only the FDA-approved HIV protease inhibitor, nelfinavir mesylate (Viracept) drastically inhibited S-n- and S-o-mediated cell fusion with complete inhibition at a 10-µM concentration. In-silico docking experiments suggested the possibility that nelfinavir may bind inside the S trimer structure, proximal to the S2 amino terminus directly inhibiting S-n- and S-o-mediated membrane fusion. Also, it is possible that nelfinavir may act to inhibit S proteolytic processing within cells. These results warrant further investigations of the potential of nelfinavir mesylate to inhibit virus spread at early times after SARS CoV-2 symptoms appear.


Subject(s)
Anti-HIV Agents/pharmacology , Membrane Fusion/drug effects , Nelfinavir/pharmacology , SARS Virus/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/antagonists & inhibitors , Animals , Anti-HIV Agents/chemistry , Binding Sites , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cell Fusion , Chlorocebus aethiops , Giant Cells/drug effects , Giant Cells/pathology , Giant Cells/virology , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , Nelfinavir/chemistry , Plasmids/chemistry , Plasmids/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Recombinant Proteins/chemistry , Recombinant Proteins/genetics , Recombinant Proteins/metabolism , SARS Virus/pathogenicity , SARS Virus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Vero Cells , Virion/drug effects , Virion/pathogenicity , Virion/physiology
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