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1.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 6(1): 428, 2021 12 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585884

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 infection-induced hyper-inflammation links to the acute lung injury and COVID-19 severity. Identifying the primary mediators that initiate the uncontrolled hypercytokinemia is essential for treatments. Mast cells (MCs) are strategically located at the mucosa and beneficially or detrimentally regulate immune inflammations. In this study, we showed that SARS-CoV-2-triggered MC degranulation initiated alveolar epithelial inflammation and lung injury. SARS-CoV-2 challenge induced MC degranulation in ACE-2 humanized mice and rhesus macaques, and a rapid MC degranulation could be recapitulated with Spike-RBD binding to ACE2 in cells; MC degranulation altered various signaling pathways in alveolar epithelial cells, particularly, the induction of pro-inflammatory factors and consequential disruption of tight junctions. Importantly, the administration of clinical MC stabilizers for blocking degranulation dampened SARS-CoV-2-induced production of pro-inflammatory factors and prevented lung injury. These findings uncover a novel mechanism for SARS-CoV-2 initiating lung inflammation, and suggest an off-label use of MC stabilizer as immunomodulators for COVID-19 treatments.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Cell Degranulation , Lung Injury/metabolism , Mast Cells/metabolism , Pulmonary Alveoli/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , Cell Line, Tumor , Female , Humans , Lung Injury/genetics , Lung Injury/virology , Macaca mulatta , Male , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Transgenic , Pulmonary Alveoli/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
2.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 6(1): 439, 2021 12 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585883

ABSTRACT

The development of animal models for COVID-19 is essential for basic research and drug/vaccine screening. Previously reported COVID-19 animal models need to be established under a high biosafety level condition for the utilization of live SARS-CoV-2, which greatly limits its application in routine research. Here, we generate a mouse model of COVID-19 under a general laboratory condition that captures multiple characteristics of SARS-CoV-2-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) observed in humans. Briefly, human ACE2-transgenic (hACE2) mice were intratracheally instilled with the formaldehyde-inactivated SARS-CoV-2, resulting in a rapid weight loss and detrimental changes in lung structure and function. The pulmonary pathologic changes were characterized by diffuse alveolar damage with pulmonary consolidation, hemorrhage, necrotic debris, and hyaline membrane formation. The production of fatal cytokines (IL-1ß, TNF-α, and IL-6) and the infiltration of activated neutrophils, inflammatory monocyte-macrophages, and T cells in the lung were also determined, suggesting the activation of an adaptive immune response. Therapeutic strategies, such as dexamethasone or passive antibody therapy, could effectively ameliorate the disease progression in this model. Therefore, the established mouse model for SARS-CoV-2-induced ARDS in the current study may provide a robust tool for researchers in the standard open laboratory to investigate the pathological mechanisms or develop new therapeutic strategies for COVID-19 and ARDS.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Lung/immunology , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/genetics
3.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(12): e1010092, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581718

ABSTRACT

The development of safe and effective vaccines to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections remains an urgent priority worldwide. We have used a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)-based prime-boost immunization strategy to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine candidate. We have constructed VSV genomes carrying exogenous genes resulting in the production of avirulent rVSV carrying the full-length spike protein (SF), the S1 subunit, or the receptor-binding domain (RBD) plus envelope (E) protein of SARS-CoV-2. Adding the honeybee melittin signal peptide (msp) to the N-terminus enhanced the protein expression, and adding the VSV G protein transmembrane domain and the cytoplasmic tail (Gtc) enhanced protein incorporation into pseudotype VSV. All rVSVs expressed three different forms of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, but chimeras with VSV-Gtc demonstrated the highest rVSV-associated expression. In immunized mice, rVSV with chimeric S protein-Gtc derivatives induced the highest level of potent neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses, and rVSV harboring the full-length msp-SF-Gtc proved to be the superior immunogen. More importantly, rVSV-msp-SF-Gtc vaccinated animals were completely protected from a subsequent SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Overall, we have developed an efficient strategy to induce a protective response in SARS-CoV-2 challenged immunized mice. Vaccination with our rVSV-based vector may be an effective solution in the global fight against COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/prevention & control , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/genetics , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Immunization , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/genetics , Viral Proteins/immunology
4.
Sci Immunol ; 5(44)2020 02 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1575907

ABSTRACT

Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are innate immune cells that acquire the capacity to suppress adaptive immune responses during cancer. It remains elusive how MDSCs differ from their normal myeloid counterparts, which limits our ability to specifically detect and therapeutically target MDSCs during cancer. Here, we sought to determine the molecular features of breast cancer-associated MDSCs using the widely studied mouse model based on the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) promoter-driven expression of the polyomavirus middle T oncoprotein (MMTV-PyMT). To identify MDSCs in an unbiased manner, we used single-cell RNA sequencing to compare MDSC-containing splenic myeloid cells from breast tumor-bearing mice with wild-type controls. Our computational analysis of 14,646 single-cell transcriptomes revealed that MDSCs emerge through an aberrant neutrophil maturation trajectory in the spleen that confers them an immunosuppressive cell state. We establish the MDSC-specific gene signature and identify CD84 as a surface marker for improved detection and enrichment of MDSCs in breast cancers.


Subject(s)
Breast Neoplasms/pathology , Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells/pathology , Single-Cell Analysis , Transcriptome , Animals , Biomarkers, Tumor/genetics , Biomarkers, Tumor/immunology , Breast Neoplasms/immunology , Cell Differentiation/genetics , Female , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred Strains , Mice, Transgenic , Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells/immunology , RNA, Neoplasm/genetics , RNA, Neoplasm/immunology , Signaling Lymphocytic Activation Molecule Family/genetics , Signaling Lymphocytic Activation Molecule Family/immunology
5.
Front Immunol ; 12: 719077, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1575525

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is a major global public threat. Currently, a worldwide effort has been mounted to generate billions of effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses to immunize the world's population at record speeds. However, there is still a demand for alternative effective vaccines that rapidly confer long-term protection and rely upon cost-effective, easily scaled-up manufacturing. Here, we present a Sindbis alphavirus vector (SV), transiently expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (SV.Spike), combined with the OX40 immunostimulatory antibody (αOX40) as a novel, highly effective vaccine approach. We show that SV.Spike plus αOX40 elicits long-lasting neutralizing antibodies and a vigorous T-cell response in mice. Protein binding, immunohistochemical, and cellular infection assays all show that vaccinated mice sera inhibits spike functions. Immunophenotyping, RNA Seq transcriptome profiles, and metabolic analysis indicate a reprogramming of T cells in vaccinated mice. Activated T cells were found to mobilize to lung tissue. Most importantly, SV.Spike plus αOX40 provided robust immune protection against infection with authentic coronavirus in transgenic mice expressing the human ACE2 receptor (hACE2-Tg). Finally, our immunization strategy induced strong effector memory response, potentiating protective immunity against re-exposure to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Our results show the potential of a new Sindbis virus-based vaccine platform to counteract waning immune response, which can be used as a new candidate to combat SARS-CoV-2. Given the T-cell responses elicited, our vaccine is likely to be effective against variants that are proving challenging, as well as serve as a platform to develop a broader spectrum pancoronavirus vaccine. Similarly, the vaccine approach is likely to be applicable to other pathogens.


Subject(s)
Antigens, Differentiation/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Sindbis Virus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Cricetinae , Female , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Sindbis Virus/genetics , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Vaccination
6.
J Exp Med ; 219(2)2022 02 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1565893

ABSTRACT

In addition to providing partial protection against pediatric tuberculosis, vaccination with bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) has been reported to confer nonspecific resistance to unrelated pulmonary pathogens, a phenomenon attributed to the induction of long-lasting alterations within the myeloid cell compartment. Here, we demonstrate that intravenous, but not subcutaneous, inoculation of BCG protects human-ACE2 transgenic mice against lethal challenge with SARS-CoV-2 (SCV2) and results in reduced viral loads in non-transgenic animals infected with an α variant. The observed increase in host resistance was associated with reductions in SCV2-induced tissue pathology, inflammatory cell recruitment, and cytokine production that multivariate analysis revealed as only partially related to diminished viral load. We propose that this protection stems from BCG-induced alterations in the composition and function of the pulmonary cellular compartment that impact the innate response to the virus and ensuing immunopathology. While intravenous BCG vaccination is not a clinically acceptable practice, our findings provide an experimental model for identifying mechanisms by which nonspecific stimulation of the pulmonary immune response promotes host resistance to SCV2 lethality.


Subject(s)
BCG Vaccine/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Administration, Intravenous , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Chemokines/metabolism , Humans , Inflammation/pathology , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Viral Load
7.
J Vis Exp ; (177)2021 11 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1528915

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). To date, SARS-CoV-2 has been responsible for over 242 million infections and more than 4.9 million deaths worldwide. Similar to other viruses, studying SARS-CoV-2 requires the use of experimental methods to detect the presence of virus in infected cells and/or in animal models. To overcome this limitation, we generated replication-competent recombinant (r)SARS-CoV-2 that expresses bioluminescent (nanoluciferase, Nluc) or fluorescent (Venus) proteins. These reporter-expressing rSARS-CoV-2 allow tracking viral infections in vitro and in vivo based on the expression of Nluc and Venus reporter genes. Here the study describes the use of rSARS-CoV-2/Nluc and rSARS-CoV-2/Venus to detect and track SARS-CoV-2 infection in the previously described K18 human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) transgenic mouse model of infection using in vivo imaging systems (IVIS). This rSARS-CoV-2/Nluc and rSARS-CoV-2/Venus show rSARS-CoV-2/WT-like pathogenicity and viral replication in vivo. Importantly, Nluc and Venus expression allow us to directly track viral infections in vivo and ex vivo, in infected mice. These rSARS-CoV-2/Nluc and rSARS-CoV-2/Venus represent an excellent option to study the biology of SARS-CoV-2 in vivo, to understand viral infection and associated COVID-19 disease, and to identify effective prophylactic and/or therapeutic treatments to combat SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Virus Diseases , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Humans , Melphalan , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2 , gamma-Globulins
8.
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
9.
Cell Rep ; 37(3): 109869, 2021 10 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1517084

ABSTRACT

The dramatically expanding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) needs multiple effective countermeasures. Neutralizing nanobodies (Nbs) are a potential therapeutic strategy for treating COVID-19. Here, we characterize several receptor binding domain (RBD)-specific Nbs isolated from an Nb library derived from an alpaca immunized with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike glycoprotein (S); among them, three Nbs exhibit picomolar potency against SARS-CoV-2 live virus, pseudotyped viruses, and circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants. To improve their efficacy, various configurations of Nbs are engineered. Nb15-NbH-Nb15, a trimer constituted of three Nbs, is constructed to be bispecific for human serum albumin (HSA) and RBD of SARS-CoV-2. Nb15-NbH-Nb15 exhibits single-digit ng/ml neutralization potency against the wild-type and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 with a long half-life in vivo. In addition, we show that intranasal administration of Nb15-NbH-Nb15 provides effective protection for both prophylactic and therapeutic purposes against SARS-CoV-2 infection in transgenic hACE2 mice. Nb15-NbH-Nb15 is a potential candidate for both the prevention and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 through respiratory administration.


Subject(s)
Administration, Intranasal , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Antibodies, Bispecific/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/chemistry , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Camelids, New World , Epitopes/chemistry , Female , Humans , Kinetics , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Neutralization Tests , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , Protein Engineering/methods , Serum Albumin, Human/chemistry , Single-Domain Antibodies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
10.
Life Sci Alliance ; 5(1)2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1515726

ABSTRACT

Understanding pathways that might impact coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) manifestations and disease outcomes is necessary for better disease management and for therapeutic development. Here, we analyzed alterations in sphingolipid (SL) levels upon infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 infection induced elevation of SL levels in both cells and sera of infected mice. A significant increase in glycosphingolipid levels was induced early post SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was essential for viral replication. This elevation could be reversed by treatment with glucosylceramide synthase inhibitors. Levels of sphinganine, sphingosine, GA1, and GM3 were significantly increased in both cells and the murine model upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. The potential involvement of SLs in COVID-19 pathology is discussed.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Sphingolipids/metabolism , Virus Replication/physiology , Animals , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Chromatography, Liquid/methods , Dioxanes/pharmacology , Gangliosides/blood , Gangliosides/metabolism , Glucosyltransferases/antagonists & inhibitors , Glucosyltransferases/metabolism , Humans , Mass Spectrometry/methods , Mice, Transgenic , Pyrrolidines/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Sphingolipids/blood , Sphingosine/analogs & derivatives , Sphingosine/blood , Sphingosine/metabolism , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects
11.
J Gen Virol ; 102(10)2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1490495

ABSTRACT

The highly pathogenic Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a severe respiratory virus. Recent reports indicate additional central nervous system (CNS) involvement. In this study, human DPP4 transgenic mice were infected with MERS-CoV, and viral antigens were first detected in the midbrain-hindbrain 4 days post-infection, suggesting the virus may enter the brainstem via peripheral nerves. Neurons and astrocytes throughout the brain were infected, followed by damage of the blood brain barrier (BBB), as well as microglial activation and inflammatory cell infiltration, which may be caused by complement activation based on the observation of deposition of complement activation product C3 and high expression of C3a receptor (C3aR) and C5a receptor (C5aR1) in neurons and glial cells. It may be concluded that these effects were mediated by complement activation in the brain, because of their reduction resulted from the treatment with mouse C5aR1-specific mAb. Such mAb significantly reduced nucleoprotein expression, suppressed microglial activation and decreased activation of caspase-3 in neurons and p38 phosphorylation in the brain. Collectively, these results suggest that MERS-CoV infection of CNS triggers complement activation, leading to inflammation-mediated damage of brain tissue, and regulating of complement activation could be a promising intervention and adjunctive treatment for CNS injury by MERS-CoV and other coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
Brain/pathology , Complement System Proteins/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4/genetics , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Animals , Blood-Brain Barrier/immunology , Blood-Brain Barrier/pathology , Brain/blood supply , Brain/immunology , Brain/virology , Complement Activation/drug effects , Complement Inactivating Agents/therapeutic use , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Inflammation , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Microglia/immunology , Microglia/pathology
12.
Nat Neurosci ; 24(11): 1522-1533, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1500484

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can damage cerebral small vessels and cause neurological symptoms. Here we describe structural changes in cerebral small vessels of patients with COVID-19 and elucidate potential mechanisms underlying the vascular pathology. In brains of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected individuals and animal models, we found an increased number of empty basement membrane tubes, so-called string vessels representing remnants of lost capillaries. We obtained evidence that brain endothelial cells are infected and that the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 (Mpro) cleaves NEMO, the essential modulator of nuclear factor-κB. By ablating NEMO, Mpro induces the death of human brain endothelial cells and the occurrence of string vessels in mice. Deletion of receptor-interacting protein kinase (RIPK) 3, a mediator of regulated cell death, blocks the vessel rarefaction and disruption of the blood-brain barrier due to NEMO ablation. Importantly, a pharmacological inhibitor of RIPK signaling prevented the Mpro-induced microvascular pathology. Our data suggest RIPK as a potential therapeutic target to treat the neuropathology of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Blood-Brain Barrier/metabolism , Brain/metabolism , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/metabolism , Microvessels/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Animals , Blood-Brain Barrier/pathology , Brain/pathology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/genetics , Cricetinae , Female , Humans , Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/genetics , Male , Mesocricetus , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Knockout , Mice, Transgenic , Microvessels/pathology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells
13.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 6304, 2021 11 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1500462

ABSTRACT

Accumulating mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein can increase the possibility of immune escape, challenging the present COVID-19 prophylaxis and clinical interventions. Here, 3 receptor binding domain (RBD) specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), 58G6, 510A5 and 13G9, with high neutralizing potency blocking authentic SARS-CoV-2 virus display remarkable efficacy against authentic B.1.351 virus. Surprisingly, structural analysis has revealed that 58G6 and 13G9 both recognize the steric region S470-495 on the RBD, overlapping the E484K mutation presented in B.1.351. Also, 58G6 directly binds to another region S450-458 in the RBD. Significantly, 58G6 and 510A5 both demonstrate prophylactic efficacy against authentic SARS-CoV-2 and B.1.351 viruses in the transgenic mice expressing human ACE2 (hACE2), protecting weight loss and reducing virus loads. Together, we have evidenced 2 potent neutralizing Abs with unique mechanism targeting authentic SARS-CoV-2 mutants, which can be promising candidates to fulfill the urgent needs for the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Monoclonal/chemistry , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/chemistry , Antibodies, Viral/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Viral/chemistry , Binding Sites , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Epitopes , Humans , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Viral Load/drug effects , Weight Loss/drug effects
14.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 6(1): 382, 2021 11 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1500449

ABSTRACT

The global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a positive-sense RNA virus. How the host immune system senses and responds to SARS-CoV-2 infection remain largely unresolved. Here, we report that SARS-CoV-2 infection activates the innate immune response through the cytosolic DNA sensing cGAS-STING pathway. SARS-CoV-2 infection induces the cellular level of 2'3'-cGAMP associated with STING activation. cGAS recognizes chromatin DNA shuttled from the nucleus as a result of cell-to-cell fusion upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. We further demonstrate that the expression of spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 and ACE2 from host cells is sufficient to trigger cytoplasmic chromatin upon cell fusion. Furthermore, cytoplasmic chromatin-cGAS-STING pathway, but not MAVS-mediated viral RNA sensing pathway, contributes to interferon and pro-inflammatory gene expression upon cell fusion. Finally, we show that cGAS is required for host antiviral responses against SARS-CoV-2, and a STING-activating compound potently inhibits viral replication. Together, our study reported a previously unappreciated mechanism by which the host innate immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2 infection, mediated by cytoplasmic chromatin from the infected cells. Targeting the cytoplasmic chromatin-cGAS-STING pathway may offer novel therapeutic opportunities in treating COVID-19. In addition, these findings extend our knowledge in host defense against viral infection by showing that host cells' self-nucleic acids can be employed as a "danger signal" to alarm the immune system.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Chromatin/immunology , Cytoplasm/immunology , Immunity, Innate , Nucleotidyltransferases/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , Chromatin/genetics , Cytoplasm/genetics , Disease Models, Animal , HEK293 Cells , HeLa Cells , Humans , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Nucleotidyltransferases/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
15.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(43)2021 10 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1481965

ABSTRACT

Self-amplifying RNA replicons are promising platforms for vaccine generation. Their defects in one or more essential functions for viral replication, particle assembly, or dissemination make them highly safe as vaccines. We previously showed that the deletion of the envelope (E) gene from the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) produces a replication-competent propagation-defective RNA replicon (MERS-CoV-ΔE). Evaluation of this replicon in mice expressing human dipeptidyl peptidase 4, the virus receptor, showed that the single deletion of the E gene generated an attenuated mutant. The combined deletion of the E gene with accessory open reading frames (ORFs) 3, 4a, 4b, and 5 resulted in a highly attenuated propagation-defective RNA replicon (MERS-CoV-Δ[3,4a,4b,5,E]). This RNA replicon induced sterilizing immunity in mice after challenge with a lethal dose of a virulent MERS-CoV, as no histopathological damage or infectious virus was detected in the lungs of challenged mice. The four mutants lacking the E gene were genetically stable, did not recombine with the E gene provided in trans during their passage in cell culture, and showed a propagation-defective phenotype in vivo. In addition, immunization with MERS-CoV-Δ[3,4a,4b,5,E] induced significant levels of neutralizing antibodies, indicating that MERS-CoV RNA replicons are highly safe and promising vaccine candidates.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/genetics , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/immunology , RNA, Viral/administration & dosage , Replicon , Viral Vaccines/administration & dosage , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/biosynthesis , Antibodies, Viral/biosynthesis , Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Defective Viruses/genetics , Defective Viruses/immunology , Female , Gene Deletion , Genes, env , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/immunology , Vaccines, DNA , Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle/administration & dosage , Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle/genetics , Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle/immunology , Viral Vaccines/genetics , Viral Vaccines/immunology , Virulence/genetics , Virulence/immunology
16.
Nat Neurosci ; 24(11): 1522-1533, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1483143

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can damage cerebral small vessels and cause neurological symptoms. Here we describe structural changes in cerebral small vessels of patients with COVID-19 and elucidate potential mechanisms underlying the vascular pathology. In brains of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected individuals and animal models, we found an increased number of empty basement membrane tubes, so-called string vessels representing remnants of lost capillaries. We obtained evidence that brain endothelial cells are infected and that the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 (Mpro) cleaves NEMO, the essential modulator of nuclear factor-κB. By ablating NEMO, Mpro induces the death of human brain endothelial cells and the occurrence of string vessels in mice. Deletion of receptor-interacting protein kinase (RIPK) 3, a mediator of regulated cell death, blocks the vessel rarefaction and disruption of the blood-brain barrier due to NEMO ablation. Importantly, a pharmacological inhibitor of RIPK signaling prevented the Mpro-induced microvascular pathology. Our data suggest RIPK as a potential therapeutic target to treat the neuropathology of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Blood-Brain Barrier/metabolism , Brain/metabolism , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/metabolism , Microvessels/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Animals , Blood-Brain Barrier/pathology , Brain/pathology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/genetics , Cricetinae , Female , Humans , Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/genetics , Male , Mesocricetus , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Knockout , Mice, Transgenic , Microvessels/pathology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells
17.
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
18.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(44)2021 11 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1470027

ABSTRACT

The pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in over 100 million infections and millions of deaths. Effective vaccines remain the best hope of curtailing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, morbidity, and mortality. The vaccines in current use require cold storage and sophisticated manufacturing capacity, which complicates their distribution, especially in less developed countries. We report the development of a candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that is purely protein based and directly targets antigen-presenting cells. It consists of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike receptor-binding domain (SpikeRBD) fused to an alpaca-derived nanobody that recognizes class II major histocompatibility complex antigens (VHHMHCII). This vaccine elicits robust humoral and cellular immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. Both young and aged mice immunized with two doses of VHHMHCII-SpikeRBD elicit high-titer binding and neutralizing antibodies. Immunization also induces strong cellular immunity, including a robust CD8 T cell response. VHHMHCII-SpikeRBD is stable for at least 7 d at room temperature and can be lyophilized without loss of efficacy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/pharmacology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/biosynthesis , Antibodies, Viral/biosynthesis , Antigen-Presenting Cells/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Camelids, New World/immunology , Female , Histocompatibility Antigens Class II/immunology , Humans , Immunity, Cellular , Immunity, Humoral , Immunization, Secondary , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Pandemics/prevention & control , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/administration & dosage , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/genetics , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Single-Domain Antibodies/administration & dosage , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/administration & dosage , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
19.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 20012, 2021 10 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1462029

ABSTRACT

There are currently no cures for coronavirus infections, making the prevention of infections the only course open at the present time. The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult to prevent, as the infection is spread by respiratory droplets and thus effective, scalable and safe preventive interventions are urgently needed. We hypothesise that preventing viral entry into mammalian nasal epithelial cells may be one way to limit the spread of COVID-19. Here we show that N-palmitoyl-N-monomethyl-N,N-dimethyl-N,N,N-trimethyl-6-O-glycolchitosan (GCPQ), a positively charged polymer that has been through an extensive Good Laboratory Practice toxicology screen, is able to reduce the infectivity of SARS-COV-2 in A549ACE2+ and Vero E6 cells with a log removal value of - 3 to - 4 at a concentration of 10-100 µg/ mL (p < 0.05 compared to untreated controls) and to limit infectivity in human airway epithelial cells at a concentration of 500 µg/ mL (p < 0.05 compared to untreated controls). In vivo studies using transgenic mice expressing the ACE-2 receptor, dosed nasally with SARS-COV-2 (426,000 TCID50/mL) showed a trend for nasal GCPQ (20 mg/kg) to inhibit viral load in the respiratory tract and brain, although the study was not powered to detect statistical significance. GCPQ's electrostatic binding to the virus, preventing viral entry into the host cells, is the most likely mechanism of viral inhibition. Radiolabelled GCPQ studies in mice show that at a dose of 10 mg/kg, GCPQ has a long residence time in mouse nares, with 13.1% of the injected dose identified from SPECT/CT in the nares, 24 h after nasal dosing. With a no observed adverse effect level of 18 mg/kg in rats, following a 28-day repeat dose study, clinical testing of this polymer, as a COVID-19 prophylactic is warranted.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Nasal Sprays , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , A549 Cells , Animals , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Male , Methylation , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Surface-Active Agents/administration & dosage , Surface-Active Agents/therapeutic use , Vero Cells , Viral Load/drug effects
20.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5819, 2021 10 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1454763

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The continued spread of SARS-CoV-2 increases the probability of influenza/SARS-CoV-2 coinfection, which may result in severe disease. In this study, we examine the disease outcome of influenza A virus (IAV) and SARS-CoV-2 coinfection in K18-hACE2 mice. Our data indicate enhance susceptibility of IAV-infected mice to developing severe disease upon coinfection with SARS-CoV-2 two days later. In contrast to nonfatal influenza and lower mortality rates due to SARS-CoV-2 alone, this coinfection results in severe morbidity and nearly complete mortality. Coinfection is associated with elevated influenza viral loads in respiratory organs. Remarkably, prior immunity to influenza, but not to SARS-CoV-2, prevents severe disease and mortality. This protection is antibody-dependent. These data experimentally support the necessity of seasonal influenza vaccination for reducing the risk of severe influenza/COVID-19 comorbidity during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Coinfection/immunology , Coinfection/virology , Immunity , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/immunology , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/virology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/pathology , Cell Line , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Humans , Inflammation/genetics , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Male , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Up-Regulation/genetics , Viral Load/immunology
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