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2.
Brief Bioinform ; 23(1)2022 01 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1597924

ABSTRACT

The pharmacological arsenal against the COVID-19 pandemic is largely based on generic anti-inflammatory strategies or poorly scalable solutions. Moreover, as the ongoing vaccination campaign is rolling slower than wished, affordable and effective therapeutics are needed. To this end, there is increasing attention toward computational methods for drug repositioning and de novo drug design. Here, multiple data-driven computational approaches are systematically integrated to perform a virtual screening and prioritize candidate drugs for the treatment of COVID-19. From the list of prioritized drugs, a subset of representative candidates to test in human cells is selected. Two compounds, 7-hydroxystaurosporine and bafetinib, show synergistic antiviral effects in vitro and strongly inhibit viral-induced syncytia formation. Moreover, since existing drug repositioning methods provide limited usable information for de novo drug design, the relevant chemical substructures of the identified drugs are extracted to provide a chemical vocabulary that may help to design new effective drugs.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19 , Giant Cells , Pyrimidines/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Staurosporine/analogs & derivatives , A549 Cells , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/metabolism , Computational Biology , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Drug Repositioning , Giant Cells/metabolism , Giant Cells/virology , Humans , Staurosporine/pharmacology
3.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4502, 2021 07 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1550282

ABSTRACT

Cells in many tissues, such as bone, muscle, and placenta, fuse into syncytia to acquire new functions and transcriptional programs. While it is known that fused cells are specialized, it is unclear whether cell-fusion itself contributes to programmatic-changes that generate the new cellular state. Here, we address this by employing a fusogen-mediated, cell-fusion system to create syncytia from undifferentiated cells. RNA-Seq analysis reveals VSV-G-induced cell fusion precedes transcriptional changes. To gain mechanistic insights, we measure the plasma membrane surface area after cell-fusion and observe it diminishes through increases in endocytosis. Consequently, glucose transporters internalize, and cytoplasmic glucose and ATP transiently decrease. This reduced energetic state activates AMPK, which inhibits YAP1, causing transcriptional-reprogramming and cell-cycle arrest. Impairing either endocytosis or AMPK activity prevents YAP1 inhibition and cell-cycle arrest after fusion. Together, these data demonstrate plasma membrane diminishment upon cell-fusion causes transient nutrient stress that may promote transcriptional-reprogramming independent from extrinsic cues.


Subject(s)
Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing/metabolism , Cell Membrane/metabolism , Cell Nucleus/metabolism , Membrane Glycoproteins/metabolism , Transcription Factors/metabolism , Transcription, Genetic/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/metabolism , AMP-Activated Protein Kinases/genetics , AMP-Activated Protein Kinases/metabolism , Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing/genetics , Animals , Biological Transport , Cell Fusion , Cell Line , Cell Line, Tumor , Cells, Cultured , Giant Cells/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Membrane Glycoproteins/genetics , Mice , RNA-Seq/methods , Signal Transduction/genetics , Transcription Factors/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics
4.
Nature ; 602(7896): 300-306, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1532072

ABSTRACT

During the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a variety of mutations have accumulated in the viral genome of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and, at the time of writing, four variants of concern are considered to be potentially hazardous to human society1. The recently emerged B.1.617.2/Delta variant of concern is closely associated with the COVID-19 surge that occurred in India in the spring of 2021 (ref. 2). However, the virological properties of B.1.617.2/Delta remain unclear. Here we show that the B.1.617.2/Delta variant is highly fusogenic and notably more pathogenic than prototypic SARS-CoV-2 in infected hamsters. The P681R mutation in the spike protein, which is highly conserved in this lineage, facilitates cleavage of the spike protein and enhances viral fusogenicity. Moreover, we demonstrate that the P681R-bearing virus exhibits higher pathogenicity compared with its parental virus. Our data suggest that the P681R mutation is a hallmark of the virological phenotype of the B.1.617.2/Delta variant and is associated with enhanced pathogenicity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Membrane Fusion , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Substitution , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cricetinae , Giant Cells/metabolism , Giant Cells/virology , Male , Mesocricetus , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Virulence/genetics , Virus Replication
5.
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
6.
J Mol Biol ; 434(6): 167280, 2022 03 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446877

ABSTRACT

Syncytia are formed when individual cells fuse. SARS-CoV-2 induces syncytia when the viral spike (S) protein on the surface of an infected cell interacts with receptors on neighboring cells. Syncytia may potentially contribute to pathology by facilitating viral dissemination, cytopathicity, immune evasion, and inflammatory response. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern possess several mutations within the S protein that enhance receptor interaction, fusogenicity and antibody binding. In this review, we discuss the molecular determinants of S mediated fusion and the antiviral innate immunity components that counteract syncytia formation. Several interferon-stimulated genes, including IFITMs and LY6E act as barriers to S protein-mediated fusion by altering the composition or biophysical properties of the target membrane. We also summarize the effect that the mutations associated with the variants of concern have on S protein fusogenicity. Altogether, this review contextualizes the current understanding of Spike fusogenicity and the role of syncytia during SARS-CoV-2 infection and pathology.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Giant Cells/metabolism , Giant Cells/pathology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
7.
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
8.
J Med Virol ; 94(1): 342-348, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1437056

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The S protein is the key viral protein for associating with ACE2, the receptor for SARS-CoV-2. There are many kinds of posttranslational modifications in S protein. However, the detailed mechanism of palmitoylation of SARS-CoV-2 S remains to be elucidated. In our current study, we characterized the palmitoylation of SARS-CoV-2 S. Both the C15 and cytoplasmic tail of SARS-CoV-2 S were palmitoylated. Fatty acid synthase inhibitor C75 and zinc finger DHHC domain-containing palmitoyltransferase (ZDHHC) inhibitor 2-BP reduced the palmitoylation of S. Interestingly, palmitoylation of SARS-CoV-2 S was not required for plasma membrane targeting of S but was critical for S-mediated syncytia formation and SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus particle entry. Overexpression of ZDHHC2, ZDHHC3, ZDHHC4, ZDHHC5, ZDHHC8, ZDHHC9, ZDHHC11, ZDHHC14, ZDHHC16, ZDHHC19, and ZDHHC20 promoted the palmitoylation of S. Furthermore, those ZDHHCs were identified to associate with SARS-CoV-2 S. Our study not only reveals the mechanism of S palmitoylation but also will shed important light into the role of S palmitoylation in syncytia formation and virus entry.


Subject(s)
Cell Membrane/metabolism , Giant Cells/metabolism , Lipoylation/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization , 4-Butyrolactone/analogs & derivatives , 4-Butyrolactone/pharmacology , Acyltransferases/antagonists & inhibitors , COVID-19/pathology , Cell Line , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Protein Processing, Post-Translational/physiology
9.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5333, 2021 09 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1402067

ABSTRACT

The Spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 binds ACE2 to direct fusion with host cells. S comprises a large external domain, a transmembrane domain, and a short cytoplasmic tail. Understanding the intracellular trafficking of S is relevant to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and to vaccines expressing full-length S from mRNA or adenovirus vectors. Here we report a proteomic screen for cellular factors that interact with the cytoplasmic tail of S. We confirm interactions with the COPI and COPII vesicle coats, ERM family actin regulators, and the WIPI3 autophagy component. The COPII binding site promotes exit from the endoplasmic reticulum, and although binding to COPI should retain S in the early Golgi where viral budding occurs, there is a suboptimal histidine residue in the recognition motif. As a result, S leaks to the surface where it accumulates and can direct the formation of multinucleate syncytia. Thus, the trafficking signals in the tail of S indicate that syncytia play a role in the SARS-CoV-2 lifecycle.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Cell Membrane/metabolism , Giant Cells/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , COP-Coated Vesicles/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Endoplasmic Reticulum/metabolism , Golgi Apparatus/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , Proteomics , Vero Cells , Virus Assembly/genetics
10.
Immunol Res ; 69(6): 496-519, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1363786

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 S protein on the membrane of infected cells can promote receptor-dependent syncytia formation, relating to extensive tissue damage and lymphocyte elimination. In this case, it is challenging to obtain neutralizing antibodies and prevent them through antibodies effectively. Considering that, in the current study, structural domain search methods are adopted to analyze the SARS-CoV-2 S protein to find the fusion mechanism. The results show that after the EF-hand domain of S protein bound to calcium ions, S2 protein had CaMKII protein activities. Besides, the CaMKII_AD domain of S2 changed S2 conformation, facilitating the formation of HR1-HR2 six-helix bundles. Apart from that, the Ca2+-ATPase of S2 pumped calcium ions from the virus cytoplasm to help membrane fusion, while motor structures of S drove the CaATP_NAI and CaMKII_AD domains to extend to the outside and combined the viral membrane and the cell membrane, thus forming a calcium bridge. Furthermore, the phospholipid-flipping-ATPase released water, triggering lipid mixing and fusion and generating fusion pores. Then, motor structures promoted fusion pore extension, followed by the cytoplasmic contents of the virus being discharged into the cell cytoplasm. After that, the membrane of the virus slid onto the cell membrane along the flowing membrane on the gap of the three CaATP_NAI. At last, the HR1-HR2 hexamer would fall into the cytoplasm or stay on the cell membrane. Therefore, the CaMKII_like system of S protein facilitated membrane fusion for further inducing syncytial multinucleated giant cells.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2/metabolism , Calcium-Transporting ATPases/metabolism , Giant Cells/metabolism , Membrane Fusion/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Amino Acid Sequence , Calcium/metabolism , Cell Membrane/physiology , Cell Membrane/virology , Giant Cells/virology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Alignment , Virus Internalization
11.
Cell ; 184(12): 3192-3204.e16, 2021 06 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1222850

ABSTRACT

Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is initiated by binding of the viral Spike protein to host receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), followed by fusion of viral and host membranes. Although antibodies that block this interaction are in emergency use as early coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) therapies, the precise determinants of neutralization potency remain unknown. We discovered a series of antibodies that potently block ACE2 binding but exhibit divergent neutralization efficacy against the live virus. Strikingly, these neutralizing antibodies can inhibit or enhance Spike-mediated membrane fusion and formation of syncytia, which are associated with chronic tissue damage in individuals with COVID-19. As revealed by cryoelectron microscopy, multiple structures of Spike-antibody complexes have distinct binding modes that not only block ACE2 binding but also alter the Spike protein conformational cycle triggered by ACE2 binding. We show that stabilization of different Spike conformations leads to modulation of Spike-mediated membrane fusion with profound implications for COVID-19 pathology and immunity.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/chemistry , Giant Cells/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antigen-Antibody Complex/chemistry , Antigen-Antibody Complex/metabolism , Binding Sites , CHO Cells , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Cricetinae , Cricetulus , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Giant Cells/cytology , Humans , Membrane Fusion , Peptide Library , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , Protein Structure, Quaternary , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
12.
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
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