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1.
Nat Commun ; 14(1): 3331, 2023 06 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-20238109

ABSTRACT

The nucleocapsid protein (N) of SARS-CoV-2 plays a pivotal role during the viral life cycle. It is involved in RNA transcription and accounts for packaging of the large genome into virus particles. N manages the enigmatic balance of bulk RNA-coating versus precise RNA-binding to designated cis-regulatory elements. Numerous studies report the involvement of its disordered segments in non-selective RNA-recognition, but how N organizes the inevitable recognition of specific motifs remains unanswered. We here use NMR spectroscopy to systematically analyze the interactions of N's N-terminal RNA-binding domain (NTD) with individual cis RNA elements clustering in the SARS-CoV-2 regulatory 5'-genomic end. Supported by broad solution-based biophysical data, we unravel the NTD RNA-binding preferences in the natural genome context. We show that the domain's flexible regions read the intrinsic signature of preferred RNA elements for selective and stable complex formation within the large pool of available motifs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Nucleocapsid/metabolism , Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism
2.
Immunology ; 169(2): 117-131, 2023 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2327145

ABSTRACT

Hyperinflammation characterized by elevated proinflammatory cytokines known as 'cytokine storms' is the major cause of high severity and mortality seen in COVID-19 patients. The pathology behind the cytokine storms is currently unknown. Increased HMGB1 levels in serum/plasma of COVID-19 patients were reported by many studies, which positively correlated with the level of proinflammatory cytokines. Dead cells following SARS-CoV-2 infection might release a large amount of HMGB1 and RNA of SARS-CoV-2 into extracellular space. HMGB1 is a well-known inflammatory mediator. Additionally, extracellular HMGB1 might interact with SARS-CoV-2 RNA because of its high capability to bind with a wide variety of molecules including nucleic acids and could trigger massive proinflammatory immune responses. This review aimed to critically explore the many possible pathways by which HMGB1-SARS-CoV-2 RNA complexes mediate proinflammatory responses in COVID-19. The contribution of these pathways to impair host immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 infection leading to a cytokine storm was also evaluated. Moreover, since blocking the HMGB1-SARS-CoV-2 RNA interaction might have therapeutic value, some of the HMGB1 antagonists have been reviewed. The HMGB1- SARS-CoV-2 RNA complexes might trigger endocytosis via RAGE which is linked to lysosomal rupture, PRRs activation, and pyroptotic death. High levels of the proinflammatory cytokines produced might suppress many immune cells leading to uncontrolled viral infection and cell damage with more HMGB1 released. Altogether these mechanisms might initiate a proinflammatory cycle leading to a cytokine storm. HMGB1 antagonists could be considered to give benefit in alleviating cytokine storms and serve as a potential candidate for COVID-19 therapy.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents , COVID-19 Drug Treatment , COVID-19 , Cytokine Release Syndrome , HMGB1 Protein , Molecular Targeted Therapy , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Cytokine Release Syndrome/drug therapy , Cytokine Release Syndrome/immunology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/virology , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/immunology , HMGB1 Protein/antagonists & inhibitors , HMGB1 Protein/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Host Microbial Interactions/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use
3.
J Virol ; 97(6): e0046523, 2023 Jun 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2326363

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus genome replication and expression are mediated by the viral replication-transcription complex (RTC) which is assembled from multiple nonstructural proteins (nsp). Among these, nsp12 represents the central functional subunit. It harbors the RNA-directed RNA polymerase (RdRp) domain and contains, at its N terminus, an additional domain called NiRAN which is widely conserved in coronaviruses and other nidoviruses. In this study, we produced bacterially expressed coronavirus nsp12s to investigate and compare NiRAN-mediated NMPylation activities from representative alpha- and betacoronaviruses. We found that the four coronavirus NiRAN domains characterized to date have a number of conserved properties, including (i) robust nsp9-specific NMPylation activities that appear to operate largely independently of the C-terminal RdRp domain, (ii) nucleotide substrate preference for UTP followed by ATP and other nucleotides, (iii) dependence on divalent metal ions, with Mn2+ being preferred over Mg2+, and (iv) a key role of N-terminal residues (particularly Asn2) of nsp9 for efficient formation of a covalent phosphoramidate bond between NMP and the N-terminal amino group of nsp9. In this context, a mutational analysis confirmed the conservation and critical role of Asn2 across different subfamilies of the family Coronaviridae, as shown by studies using chimeric coronavirus nsp9 variants in which six N-terminal residues were replaced with those from other corona-, pito- and letovirus nsp9 homologs. The combined data of this and previous studies reveal a remarkable degree of conservation among coronavirus NiRAN-mediated NMPylation activities, supporting a key role of this enzymatic activity in viral RNA synthesis and processing. IMPORTANCE There is strong evidence that coronaviruses and other large nidoviruses evolved a number of unique enzymatic activities, including an additional RdRp-associated NiRAN domain, that are conserved in nidoviruses but not in most other RNA viruses. Previous studies of the NiRAN domain mainly focused on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and suggested different functions for this domain, such as NMPylation/RNAylation of nsp9, RNA guanylyltransferase activities involved in canonical and/or unconventional RNA capping pathways, and other functions. To help resolve partly conflicting information on substrate specificities and metal ion requirements reported previously for the SARS-CoV-2 NiRAN NMPylation activity, we extended these earlier studies by characterizing representative alpha- and betacoronavirus NiRAN domains. The study revealed that key features of NiRAN-mediated NMPylation activities, such as protein and nucleotide specificity and metal ion requirements, are very well conserved among genetically divergent coronaviruses, suggesting potential avenues for future antiviral drug development targeting this essential viral enzyme.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism , Nucleotides/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism
4.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 120(20): e2221324120, 2023 05 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2320604

ABSTRACT

The frameshifting RNA element (FSE) in coronaviruses (CoVs) regulates the programmed -1 ribosomal frameshift (-1 PRF) mechanism common to many viruses. The FSE is of particular interest as a promising drug candidate. Its associated pseudoknot or stem loop structure is thought to play a large role in frameshifting and thus viral protein production. To investigate the FSE structural evolution, we use our graph theory-based methods for representing RNA secondary structures in the RNA-As-Graphs (RAG) framework to calculate conformational landscapes of viral FSEs with increasing sequence lengths for representative 10 Alpha and 13 Beta-CoVs. By following length-dependent conformational changes, we show that FSE sequences encode many possible competing stems which in turn favor certain FSE topologies, including a variety of pseudoknots, stem loops, and junctions. We explain alternative competing stems and topological FSE changes by recurring patterns of mutations. At the same time, FSE topology robustness can be understood by shifted stems within different sequence contexts and base pair coevolution. We further propose that the topology changes reflected by length-dependent conformations contribute to tuning the frameshifting efficiency. Our work provides tools to analyze virus sequence/structure correlations, explains how sequence and FSE structure have evolved for CoVs, and provides insights into potential mutations for therapeutic applications against a broad spectrum of CoV FSEs by targeting key sequence/structural transitions.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections , Coronavirus , Humans , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Coronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus/metabolism , Base Sequence , Nucleic Acid Conformation , Frameshifting, Ribosomal/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/genetics
5.
J Neurovirol ; 29(2): 121-134, 2023 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2304443

ABSTRACT

Progress in stem cell research has revolutionized the medical field for more than two decades. More recently, the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has allowed for the development of advanced disease modeling and tissue engineering platforms. iPSCs are generated from adult somatic cells by reprogramming them into an embryonic-like state via the expression of transcription factors required for establishing pluripotency. In the context of the central nervous system (CNS), iPSCs have the potential to differentiate into a wide variety of brain cell types including neurons, astrocytes, microglial cells, endothelial cells, and oligodendrocytes. iPSCs can be used to generate brain organoids by using a constructive approach in three-dimensional (3D) culture in vitro. Recent advances in 3D brain organoid modeling have provided access to a better understanding of cell-to-cell interactions in disease progression, particularly with neurotropic viral infections. Neurotropic viral infections have been difficult to study in two-dimensional culture systems in vitro due to the lack of a multicellular composition of CNS cell networks. In recent years, 3D brain organoids have been preferred for modeling neurotropic viral diseases and have provided invaluable information for better understanding the molecular regulation of viral infection and cellular responses. Here we provide a comprehensive review of the literature on recent advances in iPSC-derived 3D brain organoid culturing and their utilization in modeling major neurotropic viral infections including HIV-1, HSV-1, JCV, ZIKV, CMV, and SARS-CoV2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells , Virus Diseases , Viruses , Zika Virus Infection , Zika Virus , Humans , Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells/metabolism , Zika Virus Infection/genetics , Endothelial Cells , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Brain , Virus Diseases/metabolism , Organoids/metabolism
6.
Viral Immunol ; 35(7): 491-502, 2022 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2297458

ABSTRACT

Lymphocytes are the main orchestrators that regulate the immune response in SARS-COV-2 infection. The exhaustion of T lymphocytes is a contributing factor to lymphopenia, which is responsible for the COVID-19 adverse outcome. However, it is still not demonstrated on a large scale, including cancer patients. Peripheral blood samples were obtained from 83 SARS-CoV2 infected cancer patients, and 29 COVID-19 infected noncancer patients compared to 28 age-matched healthy controls. Lymphocyte subsets were assessed for CD3, CD4, CD8, CD56, PD-1, and CD95 using flow cytometry. The data were correlated to the patients' clinical features, COVID-19 severity and outcomes. Lymphopenia, and decreased CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells were significantly observed in COVID-19 cancer and noncancer patients compared to the control group (p < 0.001, for all). There was a significantly increased expression of CD95 and PD-1 on the NK cells, CD4+ T cells, and CD8+ T cells in COVID-19 cancer and noncancer patients in comparison to the control group. The increased expression of CD95 on CD8+ T cells, as well as the increased expression of PD-1 on CD8+ T cells and NK cells are significantly associated with the severity of COVID-19 infection in cancer patients. The increased expression of CD95 and PD-1 on the CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and NK cells was observed significantly in nonsurviving patients and those who were admitted to the intensive care unit in COVID-19 cancer and noncancer patients. The increased expression of PD-1 and CD95 could be possible prognostic factors for COVID-19 severity and adverse outcomes in COVID-19 cancer and noncancer patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Lymphopenia , Neoplasms , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Humans , Lymphocyte Subsets , Lymphopenia/metabolism , Neoplasms/complications , Neoplasms/metabolism , Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , T-Lymphocyte Subsets
7.
Biosensors (Basel) ; 11(10)2021 Oct 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2278217

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people's lives and has brought society to a sudden standstill, with lockdowns and social distancing as the preferred preventative measures. To lift these measurements and reduce society's burden, developing an easy-to-use, rapid, and portable system to detect SARS-CoV-2 is mandatory. To this end, we developed a portable and semi-automated device for SARS-CoV-2 detection based on reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification followed by a CRISPR/Cas12a reaction. The device contains a heater element mounted on a printed circuit board, a cooler fan, a proportional integral derivative controller to control the temperature, and designated areas for 0.2 mL Eppendorf® PCR tubes. Our system has a limit of detection of 35 copies of the virus per microliter, which is significant and has the capability of being used in crisis centers, mobile laboratories, remote locations, or airports to diagnose individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2. We believe the current methodology that we have implemented in this article is beneficial for the early screening of infectious diseases, in which fast screening with high accuracy is necessary.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , CRISPR-Cas Systems/genetics , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Testing/instrumentation , COVID-19 Testing/methods , Humans , Limit of Detection , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/instrumentation , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/instrumentation , Point-of-Care Systems , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
8.
BMC Infect Dis ; 23(1): 164, 2023 Mar 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2276608

ABSTRACT

HIV-1 remains a global health concern and to date, nearly 38 million people are living with HIV. The complexity of HIV-1 pathogenesis and its subsequent prevalence is influenced by several factors including the HIV-1 subtype. HIV-1 subtype variation extends to sequence variation in the amino acids of the HIV-1 viral proteins. Of particular interest is the transactivation of transcription (Tat) protein due to its key function in viral transcription. The Tat protein predominantly functions by binding to the transactivation response (TAR) RNA element to activate HIV-1 transcriptional elongation. Subtype-specific Tat protein sequence variation influences Tat-TAR binding affinity. Despite several studies investigating Tat-TAR binding, it is not clear which regions of the Tat protein and/or individual Tat amino acid residues may contribute to TAR binding affinity. We, therefore, conducted a scoping review on studies investigating Tat-TAR binding. We aimed to synthesize the published data to determine (1) the regions of the Tat protein that may be involved in TAR binding, (2) key Tat amino acids involved in TAR binding and (3) if Tat subtype-specific variation influences TAR binding. A total of thirteen studies met our inclusion criteria and the key findings were that (1) both N-terminal and C-terminal amino acids outside the basic domain (47-59) may be important in increasing Tat-TAR binding affinity, (2) substitution of the amino acids Lysine and Arginine (47-59) resulted in a reduction in binding affinity to TAR, and (3) none of the included studies have investigated Tat subtype-specific substitutions and therefore no commentary could be made regarding which subtype may have a higher Tat-TAR binding affinity. Future studies investigating Tat-TAR binding should therefore use full-length Tat proteins and compare subtype-specific variations. Studies of such a nature may help explain why we see differential pathogenesis and prevalence when comparing HIV-1 subtypes.


Subject(s)
HIV-1 , Humans , HIV-1/genetics , tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus/genetics , tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus/metabolism , HIV Long Terminal Repeat , Amino Acids/genetics , Amino Acids/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism
9.
Nucleic Acids Res ; 51(9): 4555-4571, 2023 05 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2275338

ABSTRACT

The pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has called for concerted efforts to generate new insights into the biology of betacoronaviruses to inform drug screening and development. Here, we establish a workflow to determine the RNA recognition and druggability of the nucleocapsid N-protein of SARS-CoV-2, a highly abundant protein crucial for the viral life cycle. We use a synergistic method that combines NMR spectroscopy and protein-RNA cross-linking coupled to mass spectrometry to quickly determine the RNA binding of two RNA recognition domains of the N-protein. Finally, we explore the druggability of these domains by performing an NMR fragment screening. This workflow identified small molecule chemotypes that bind to RNA binding interfaces and that have promising properties for further fragment expansion and drug development.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Drug Treatment , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins , Drug Development , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , COVID-19/virology , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular , Mass Spectrometry , Workflow , Protein Binding
10.
mBio ; 14(2): e0012723, 2023 04 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2274752

ABSTRACT

Viruses are known to co-opt host machinery for translation initiation, but less is known about which host factors are required for the formation of ribosomes used to synthesize viral proteins. Using a loss-of-function CRISPR screen, we show that synthesis of a flavivirus-encoded fluorescent reporter depends on multiple host factors, including several 60S ribosome biogenesis proteins. Viral phenotyping revealed that two of these factors, SBDS, a known ribosome biogenesis factor, and the relatively uncharacterized protein SPATA5, were broadly required for replication of flaviviruses, coronaviruses, alphaviruses, paramyxoviruses, an enterovirus, and a poxvirus. Mechanistic studies revealed that loss of SPATA5 caused defects in rRNA processing and ribosome assembly, suggesting that this human protein may be a functional ortholog of yeast Drg1. These studies implicate specific ribosome biogenesis proteins as viral host dependency factors that are required for synthesis of virally encoded protein and accordingly, optimal viral replication. IMPORTANCE Viruses are well known for their ability to co-opt host ribosomes to synthesize viral proteins. The specific factors involved in translation of viral RNAs are not fully described. In this study, we implemented a unique genome-scale CRISPR screen to identify previously uncharacterized host factors that are important for the synthesis of virally encoded protein. We found that multiple genes involved in 60S ribosome biogenesis were required for viral RNA translation. Loss of these factors severely impaired viral replication. Mechanistic studies on the AAA ATPase SPATA5 indicate that this host factor is required for a late step in ribosome formation. These findings reveal insight into the identity and function of specific ribosome biogenesis proteins that are critical for viral infections.


Subject(s)
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats , Flavivirus , Humans , Ribosomes/metabolism , Viral Proteins/genetics , Viral Proteins/metabolism , Virus Replication , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism , ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities/metabolism
11.
Microb Cell Fact ; 22(1): 39, 2023 Feb 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2280034

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Virus-like particles are an interesting vector platform for vaccine development. Particularly, Hepatitis B virus core antigen has been used as a promising VLP platform. It is highly expressed in different recombinant expression systems, such as E. coli, and self-assembled in vitro. It effectively improves the immunogenicity of foreign antigenic epitopes on its surface. Various foreign antigens from bacteria, viruses, and protozoa can be genetically inserted into such nanoparticles. The effective immunogenicity due to VLP vaccines has been reported. However, no research has been performed on the SARS-CoV2 vaccine within this unique platform through genetic engineering. Considering the high yield of target proteins, low cost of production, and feasibility of scaling up, E. coli is an outstanding expression platform to develop such vaccines. Therefore, in this investigation, we planned to study and develop a unique HBc VLP-based vaccine against SARS-Cov2 utilizing the E. coli expression system due to its importance. RESULTS: Insertion of the selected epitope was done into the major immunodominant region (MIR) of truncated (149 residues) hepatitis B core capsid protein. The chimeric protein was constructed in PET28a+ and expressed through the bacterial E. coli BL21 expression system. However, the protein was expressed in inclusion body forms and extracted following urea denaturation from the insoluble phase. Following the extraction, the vaccine protein was purified using Ni2 + iminodiacetic acid (IDA) affinity chromatography. SDS-PAGE and western blotting were used to confirm the protein expression. Regarding the denaturation step, the unavoidable refolding process was carried out, so that the chimeric VLP reassembled in native conformation. Based on the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis, the HBC VLP was successfully assembled. Confirming the assembled chimeric VLP, we explored the immunogenic effectivity of the vaccine through mice immunization with two-dose vaccination with and without adjuvant. The utilization of adjuvant was suggested to assess the effect of adjuvant on improving the immune elicitation of chimeric VLP-based vaccine. Immunization analysis based on anti-spike specific IgG antibody showed a significant increase in antibody production in harvested serum from immunized mice with HBc-VLP harboring antigenic epitope compared to HBc-VLP- and PBS-injected mice. CONCLUSIONS: The results approved the successful production and the effectiveness of the vaccine in terms of humoral IgG antibody production. Therefore, this platform can be considered a promising strategy for developing safe and reasonable vaccines; however, more complementary immunological evaluations are needed.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Hepatitis B , Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle , Mice , Animals , Epitopes , Hepatitis B virus/genetics , Hepatitis B virus/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Immunity, Humoral , Escherichia coli/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Adjuvants, Immunologic/metabolism , Mice, Inbred BALB C
12.
Essays Biochem ; 67(1): 131-145, 2023 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2289178

ABSTRACT

Key homeostasis providing cells in the central nervous system (CNS) are astrocytes, which belong to the class of cells known as atroglia, a highly heterogeneous type of neuroglia and a prominent element of the brain defence. Diseases evolve due to altered homeostatic state, associated with pathology-induced astroglia remodelling represented by reactive astrocytes, astroglial atrophy and astrodegeneration. These features are hallmarks of most infectious insults, mediated by bacteria, protozoa and viruses; they are also prominent in the systemic infection. The COVID-19 pandemic revived the focus into neurotropic viruses such as SARS-CoV2 (Coronaviridae) but also the Flaviviridae viruses including tick-borne encephalitis (TBEV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) causing the epidemic in South America prior to COVID-19. Astrocytes provide a key response to neurotropic infections in the CNS. Astrocytes form a parenchymal part of the blood-brain barrier, the site of virus entry into the CNS. Astrocytes exhibit aerobic glycolysis, a form of metabolism characteristic of highly morphologically plastic cells, like cancer cells, hence a suitable milieu for multiplication of infectious agent, including viral particles. However, why the protection afforded by astrocytes fails in some circumstances is an open question to be studied in the future.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Zika Virus Infection , Zika Virus , Humans , Astrocytes/metabolism , Pandemics , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Zika Virus Infection/metabolism , COVID-19/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2
13.
Viruses ; 15(3)2023 02 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2288559

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 sequences can be reverse-transcribed and integrated into the genomes of virus-infected cells by a LINE1-mediated retrotransposition mechanism. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) methods detected retrotransposed SARS-CoV-2 subgenomic sequences in virus-infected cells overexpressing LINE1, while an enrichment method (TagMap) identified retrotranspositions in cells that did not overexpress LINE1. LINE1 overexpression increased retrotranspositions about 1000-fold as compared to non-overexpressing cells. Nanopore WGS can directly recover retrotransposed viral and flanking host sequences, but its sensitivity depends on the depth of sequencing (a typical 20-fold sequencing depth would only examine 10 diploid cell equivalents). In contrast, TagMap enriches the host-virus junctions and can interrogate up to 20,000 cells and is able to detect rare viral retrotranspositions in LINE1 non-overexpressing cells. Although Nanopore WGS is 10-20-fold more sensitive per tested cell, TagMap can interrogate 1000-2000-fold more cells and, therefore, can identify infrequent retrotranspositions. When comparing SARS-CoV-2 infection and viral nucleocapsid mRNA transfection by TagMap, retrotransposed SARS-CoV-2 sequences were only detected in infected but not in transfected cells. Retrotransposition in virus-infected cells, in contrast to transfected cells, may be facilitated because virus infection, in contrast to viral RNA transfection, results in significantly higher viral RNA levels and stimulates LINE1 expression by causing cellular stress.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Reverse Transcription , RNA, Messenger/genetics , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Genomics
14.
Mol Ther ; 31(6): 1675-1687, 2023 Jun 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2288023

ABSTRACT

CRISPR-Cas13-mediated viral genome targeting is a novel strategy for defending against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants. Here, we generated mRNA-encoded Cas13b targeting the open reading frame 1b (ORF1b) region to effectively degrade the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene. Of the 12 designed CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs), those targeting the pseudoknot site upstream of ORF1b were found to be the most effective in suppressing SARS-CoV-2 propagation. Pseudoknot-targeting Cas13b reduced expression of the spike protein and attenuated viral replication by 99%. It also inhibited the replication of multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants, exhibiting broad potency. We validated the therapeutic efficacy of this system in SARS-CoV-2-infected hACE2 transgenic mice, demonstrating that crRNA treatment significantly reduced viral titers. Our findings suggest that the pseudoknot region is a strategic site for targeted genomic degradation of SARS-CoV-2. Hence, pseudoknot-targeting Cas13b could be a breakthrough therapy for overcoming infections by SARS-CoV-2 or other RNA viruses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Animals , Mice , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Replication , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism
15.
PLoS Biol ; 21(1): e3001693, 2023 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2266404

ABSTRACT

RNA recombination in positive-strand RNA viruses is a molecular-genetic process, which permits the greatest evolution of the genome and may be essential to stabilizing the genome from the deleterious consequences of accumulated mutations. Enteroviruses represent a useful system to elucidate the details of this process. On the biochemical level, it is known that RNA recombination is catalyzed by the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase using a template-switching mechanism. For this mechanism to function in cells, the recombining genomes must be located in the same subcellular compartment. How a viral genome is trafficked to the site of genome replication and recombination, which is membrane associated and isolated from the cytoplasm, is not known. We hypothesized that genome translation was essential for colocalization of genomes for recombination. We show that complete inactivation of internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-mediated translation of a donor enteroviral genome enhanced recombination instead of impairing it. Recombination did not occur by a nonreplicative mechanism. Rather, sufficient translation of the nonstructural region of the genome occurred to support subsequent steps required for recombination. The noncanonical translation initiation factors, eIF2A and eIF2D, were required for IRES-independent translation. Our results support an eIF2A/eIF2D-dependent mechanism under conditions in which the eIF2-dependent mechanism is inactive. Detection of an IRES-independent mechanism for translation of the enterovirus genome provides an explanation for a variety of debated observations, including nonreplicative recombination and persistence of enteroviral RNA lacking an IRES. The existence of an eIF2A/eIF2D-dependent mechanism in enteroviruses predicts the existence of similar mechanisms in other viruses.


Subject(s)
Enterovirus Infections , Enterovirus , Humans , Enterovirus/physiology , Enterovirus Infections/virology , Internal Ribosome Entry Sites , Peptide Initiation Factors/genetics , Protein Biosynthesis , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Host-Pathogen Interactions
16.
Viruses ; 15(3)2023 03 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2263678

ABSTRACT

The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic forms a major global health burden. Although protective vaccines are available, concerns remain as new virus variants continue to appear. CRISPR-based gene-editing approaches offer an attractive therapeutic strategy as the CRISPR-RNA (crRNA) can be adjusted rapidly to accommodate a new viral genome sequence. This study aimed at using the RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas13d system to attack highly conserved sequences in the viral RNA genome, thereby preparing for future zoonotic outbreaks of other coronaviruses. We designed 29 crRNAs targeting highly conserved sequences along the complete SARS-CoV-2 genome. Several crRNAs demonstrated efficient silencing of a reporter with the matching viral target sequence and efficient inhibition of a SARS-CoV-2 replicon. The crRNAs that suppress SARS-CoV-2 were also able to suppress SARS-CoV, thus demonstrating the breadth of this antiviral strategy. Strikingly, we observed that only crRNAs directed against the plus-genomic RNA demonstrated antiviral activity in the replicon assay, in contrast to those that bind the minus-genomic RNA, the replication intermediate. These results point to a major difference in the vulnerability and biology of the +RNA versus -RNA strands of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and provide important insights for the design of RNA-targeting antivirals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Gene Editing/methods , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism
17.
Cells ; 12(1)2022 12 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2243524

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 infection was previously associated with the expression of the dopamine biosynthetic enzyme L-Dopa decarboxylase (DDC). Specifically, a negative correlation was detected between DDC mRNA and SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in in vitro infected epithelial cells and the nasopharyngeal tissue of COVID-19 patients with mild/no symptoms. However, DDC, among other genes related to both DDC expression and SARS-CoV-2-infection (ACE2, dACE2, EPO), was upregulated in these patients, possibly attributed to an orchestrated host antiviral response. Herein, by comparing DDC expression in the nasopharyngeal swab samples of severe/critical to mild COVID-19 cases, we showed a 20 mean-fold reduction, highlighting the importance of the expression of this gene as a potential marker of COVID-19 severity. Moreover, we identified an association of SARS-CoV-2 infection with the expression of key catecholamine biosynthesis/metabolism-related genes, in whole blood samples from hospitalized patients and in cultured cells. Specifically, viral infection downregulated the biosynthetic part of the dopamine pathway (reduction in DDC expression up to 7.5 mean-fold), while enhanced the catabolizing part (increase in monoamine oxidases A and B expression up to 15 and 10 mean-fold, respectively) in vivo, irrespectively of the presence of comorbidities. In accordance, dopamine levels in the sera of severe cases were reduced (up to 3.8 mean-fold). Additionally, a moderate positive correlation between DDC and MAOA mRNA levels (r = 0.527, p < 00001) in the blood was identified upon SARS-CoV-2-infection. These observations were consistent to the gene expression data from SARS-CoV-2-infected Vero E6 and A549 epithelial cells. Furthermore, L-Dopa or dopamine treatment of infected cells attenuated the virus-derived cytopathic effect by 55% and 59%, respectively. The SARS-CoV-2 mediated suppression of dopamine biosynthesis in cell culture was, at least in part, attributed to hypoxia-like conditions triggered by viral infection. These findings suggest that L-Dopa/dopamine intake may have a preventive or therapeutic value for COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Catecholamines , Dopamine , Levodopa/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Biosynthetic Pathways , RNA, Messenger/metabolism
18.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 7(1): 400, 2022 12 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2230613

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has devastated global health. Identifying key host factors essential for SARS-CoV-2 RNA replication is expected to unravel cellular targets for the development of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs which have been quested for the preparedness of future viral outbreaks. Here, we have identified host proteins that associate with nonstructural protein 12 (nsp12), the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) of SARS-CoV-2 using a mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomic approach. Among the candidate factors, CDK2 (Cyclin-dependent kinase 2), a member of cyclin-dependent kinases, interacts with nsp12 and causes its phosphorylation at T20, thus facilitating the assembly of the RdRp complex consisting of nsp12, nsp7 and nsp8 and promoting efficient synthesis of viral RNA. The crucial role of CDK2 in viral RdRp function is further supported by our observation that CDK2 inhibitors potently impair viral RNA synthesis and SARS-CoV-2 infection. Taken together, we have discovered CDK2 as a key host factor of SARS-CoV-2 RdRp complex, thus serving a promising target for the development of SARS-CoV-2 RdRp inhibitors.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2/genetics , Proteomics , COVID-19/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/genetics , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/chemistry , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism
19.
J Biochem ; 173(6): 447-457, 2023 May 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2235398

ABSTRACT

The interaction of the ß-coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleocapsid (N) protein with genomic RNA is initiated by specific RNA regions and subsequently induces the formation of a continuous polymer with characteristic structural units for viral formation. We hypothesized that oligomeric RNAs, whose sequences are absent in the 29.9-kb genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2, might affect RNA-N protein interactions. We identified two such hexameric RNAs, In-1 (CCGGCG) and G6 (GGGGGG), and investigated their effects on the small filamentous/droplet-like structures (< a few µm) of N protein-genomic RNA formed by liquid-liquid phase separation. The small N protein structures were sequence-specifically enhanced by In-1, whereas G6 caused them to coalesce into large droplets. Moreover, we found that a guanosine 12-mer (G12, GGGGGGGGGGGG) expelled preexisting genomic RNA from the small N protein structures. The presence of G12 with the genomic RNA suppressed the formation of the small N protein structures, and alternatively apparently altered phase separation to induce the formation of large droplets with unclear phase boundaries. We showed that the N-terminal RNA-binding domain is required for the stability of the small N protein structures. Our results suggest that G12 may be a strong inhibitor of the RNA-N protein interaction.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/chemistry , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Protein Binding
20.
J Neuroinflammation ; 20(1): 30, 2023 Feb 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2234817

ABSTRACT

Patients with COVID-19 can have a variety of neurological symptoms, but the active involvement of central nervous system (CNS) in COVID-19 remains unclear. While routine cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analyses in patients with neurological manifestations of COVID-19 generally show no or only mild inflammation, more detailed data on inflammatory mediators in the CSF of patients with COVID-19 are scarce. We studied the inflammatory response in paired CSF and serum samples of patients with COVID-19 (n = 38). Patients with herpes simplex virus encephalitis (HSVE, n = 10) and patients with non-inflammatory, non-neurodegenerative neurological diseases (n = 28) served as controls. We used proteomics, enzyme-linked immunoassays, and semiquantitative cytokine arrays to characterize inflammatory proteins. Autoantibody screening was performed with cell-based assays and native tissue staining. RNA sequencing of long-non-coding RNA and circular RNA was done to study the transcriptome. Proteomics on single protein level and subsequent pathway analysis showed similar yet strongly attenuated inflammatory changes in the CSF of COVID-19 patients compared to HSVE patients with, e.g., downregulation of the apolipoproteins and extracellular matrix proteins. Protein upregulation of the complement system, the serpin proteins pathways, and other proteins including glycoproteins alpha-2 and alpha-1 acid. Importantly, calculation of interleukin-6, interleukin-16, and CXCL10 CSF/serum indices suggest that these inflammatory mediators reach the CSF from the systemic circulation, rather than being produced within the CNS. Antibody screening revealed no pathological levels of known neuronal autoantibodies. When stratifying COVID-19 patients into those with and without bacterial superinfection as indicated by elevated procalcitonin levels, inflammatory markers were significantly (p < 0.01) higher in those with bacterial superinfection. RNA sequencing in the CSF revealed 101 linear RNAs comprising messenger RNAs, and two circRNAs being significantly differentially expressed in COVID-19 than in non-neuroinflammatory controls and neurodegenerative patients. Our findings may explain the absence of signs of intrathecal inflammation upon routine CSF testing despite the presence of SARS-CoV2 infection-associated neurological symptoms. The relevance of blood-derived mediators of inflammation in the CSF for neurological COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 symptoms deserves further investigation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex , Superinfection , Humans , Proteome/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Superinfection/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Brain/metabolism , Inflammation/metabolism , Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex/cerebrospinal fluid , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism
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