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1.
PLoS One ; 17(10): e0274829, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2079738

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is a global threat. To forestall the pandemic, developing safe and effective vaccines is necessary. Because of the rapid production and little effect on the host genome, mRNA vaccines are attractive, but they have a relatively low immune response after a single dose. Replicon RNA (repRNA) is a promising vaccine platform for safety and efficacy. RepRNA vaccine encodes not only antigen genes but also the genes necessary for RNA replication. Thus, repRNA is self-replicative and can play the role of an adjuvant by itself, which elicits robust immunity. This study constructed and evaluated a repRNA vaccine in which the gene encoding the spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 was inserted into a replicon of yellow fever virus 17D strain. Upon electroporation of this repRNA into baby hamster kidney cells, the S protein and yellow fever virus protein were co-expressed. Additionally, the self-replication ability of repRNA vaccine was confirmed using qRT-PCR, demonstrating its potency as a vaccine. Immunization of C57BL/6 mice with 1 µg of the repRNA vaccine induced specific T-cell responses but not antibody responses. Notably, the T-cell response induced by the repRNA vaccine was significantly higher than that induced by the nonreplicative RNA vaccine in our experimental model. In the future, it is of the essence to optimize vaccine administration methods and improve S protein expression, like protection of repRNA by nanoparticles and evasion of innate immunity of the host to enhance the immune-inducing ability of the repRNA vaccine.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Mice , Animals , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19 Vaccines , Yellow fever virus , COVID-19/prevention & control , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Vaccines, Synthetic/genetics , Replicon , RNA/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Antibodies, Viral , Antibodies, Neutralizing
2.
Vaccine ; 40(38): 5569-5578, 2022 09 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2016159

ABSTRACT

Alphavirus-derived RNA replicon particle (RP) vaccines represent the next generation of swine influenza A virus (IAV) vaccines, as they were shown to be safe, effective, and offer advantages over traditional vaccine platforms. IAV is a significant respiratory pathogen of swine and there is a critical need to improve current commercial swine IAV vaccine platforms. Adjuvanted whole inactivated virus (WIV) IAV swine vaccines provide limited heterologous protection and may lead to vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease (VAERD). This study investigated the ability of RP IAV hemagglutinin (HA) vaccines to avoid VAERD and evaluated experimental multivalent HA and neuraminidase (NA) RP vaccines. RP vaccines were formulated with HA or NA heterologous or homologous to the challenge virus in monovalent HA or HA and NA bivalent combinations (HA/NA bivalent). Pigs were vaccinated with an HA RP, HA/NA bivalent RP, or heterologous HA WIV, followed by IAV challenge and necropsy 5 days post infection. RP vaccines provided homologous protection from challenge and induced robust peripheral and local antibody responses. The RP vaccine did not induce VAERD after challenge with a virus containing the heterologous HA, in contrast to the traditional WIV vaccine. The HA monovalent and HA/NA bivalent RP vaccines showed superior protection compared to traditional WIV. Additionally, the RP platform allows greater flexibility to adjust HA and NA content to reflect circulating IAV in swine antigenic diversity.


Subject(s)
Influenza A virus , Influenza Vaccines , Influenza, Human , Orthomyxoviridae Infections , Respiratory Tract Diseases , Swine Diseases , Animals , Antibodies, Viral , Hemagglutinins , Humans , Neuraminidase/genetics , Replicon , Swine
3.
J Med Virol ; 94(12): 6078-6090, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1976744

ABSTRACT

Single-cycle infectious virus can elicit close-to-natural immune response and memory. One approach to generate single-cycle severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is through deletion of structural genes such as spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N). Transcomplementation of the resulting ΔS or ΔN virus through enforced expression of S or N protein in the cells gives rise to a live but unproductive virus. In this study, ΔS and ΔN BAC clones were constructed and their live virions were rescued by transient expression of S and N proteins from the ancestral and the Omicron strains. ΔS and ΔN virions were visualized by transmission electron microscopy. Virion production of ΔS was more efficient than that of ΔN. The coated S protein from ΔS was delivered to infected cells in which the expression of N protein was also robust. In contrast, expression of neither S nor N was detected in ΔN-infected cells. ΔS underwent viral RNA replication, induced type I interferon (IFN) response, but did not form plaques. Despite RNA replication in cells, ΔS infection did not produce viral progeny in culture supernatant. Interestingly, viral RNA replication was not further enhanced upon overexpression of S protein. Taken together, our work provides a versatile platform for development of single-cycle vaccines for SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Interferon Type I , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Interferon Type I/genetics , RNA, Viral/genetics , Replicon , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
4.
Virol Sin ; 37(5): 695-703, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1915075

ABSTRACT

Several variants of concern (VOCs) have emerged since the WIV04 strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first isolated in January 2020. Due to mutations in the spike (S) protein, these VOCs have evolved to enhance viral infectivity and immune evasion. However, whether mutations of the other viral proteins lead to altered viral propagation and drug resistance remains obscure. The replicon is a noninfectious viral surrogate capable of recapitulating certain steps of the viral life cycle. Although several SARS-CoV-2 replicons have been developed, none of them were derived from emerging VOCs and could only recapitulate viral genome replication and subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) transcription. In this study, SARS-CoV-2 replicons derived from the WIV04 strain and two VOCs (the Beta and Delta variants) were prepared by removing the S gene from their genomes, while other structural genes remained untouched. These replicons not only recapitulate viral genome replication and sgRNA transcription but also support the assembly and release of viral-like particles, as manifested by electron microscopic assays. Thus, the S-deletion replicon could recapitulate virtually all the post-entry steps of the viral life cycle and provides a versatile tool for measuring viral intracellular propagation and screening novel antiviral drugs, including inhibitors of virion assembly and release. Through the quantification of replicon RNA released into the supernatant, we demonstrate that viral intracellular propagation and drug response to remdesivir have not yet substantially changed during the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 from the WIV04 strain to the Beta and Delta VOCs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Replicon , RNA , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Viral Proteins , Virion/genetics
5.
Antiviral Res ; 199: 105268, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1850634

ABSTRACT

Experiments with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are limited by the need for biosafety level 3 (BSL3) conditions. A SARS-CoV-2 replicon system rather than an in vitro infection system is suitable for antiviral screening since it can be handled under BSL2 conditions and does not produce infectious particles. However, the reported replicon systems are cumbersome because of the need for transient transfection in each assay. In this study, we constructed a bacterial artificial chromosome vector (the replicon-BAC vector) including the SARS-CoV-2 replicon and a fusion gene encoding Renilla luciferase and neomycin phosphotransferase II, examined the antiviral effects of several known compounds, and then established a cell line stably harboring the replicon-BAC vector. Several cell lines transiently transfected with the replicon-BAC vector produced subgenomic replicon RNAs (sgRNAs) and viral proteins, and exhibited luciferase activity. In the transient replicon system, treatment with remdesivir or interferon-ß but not with camostat or favipiravir suppressed the production of viral agents and luciferase, indicating that luciferase activity corresponds to viral replication. VeroE6/Rep3, a stable replicon cell line based on VeroE6 cells, was successfully established and continuously produced viral proteins, sgRNAs and luciferase, and their production was suppressed by treatment with remdesivir or interferon-ß. Molnupiravir, a novel coronavirus RdRp inhibitor, inhibited viral replication more potently in VeroE6/Rep3 cells than in VeroE6-based transient replicon cells. In summary, our stable replicon system will be a powerful tool for the identification of SARS-CoV-2 antivirals through high-throughput screening.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Humans , Replicon , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Replication
6.
Viruses ; 14(5)2022 05 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1820426

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2, SARS2) remains a great global health threat and demands identification of more effective and SARS2-targeted antiviral drugs, even with successful development of anti-SARS2 vaccines. Viral replicons have proven to be a rapid, safe, and readily scalable platform for high-throughput screening, identification, and evaluation of antiviral drugs against positive-stranded RNA viruses. In the study, we report a unique robust HIV long terminal repeat (LTR)/T7 dual-promoter-driven and dual-reporter firefly luciferase (fLuc) and green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing SARS2 replicon. The genomic organization of the replicon was designed with quite a few features that were to ensure the replication fidelity of the replicon, to maximize the expression of the full-length replicon, and to offer the monitoring flexibility of the replicon replication. We showed the success of the construction of the replicon and expression of reporter genes fLuc and GFP and SARS structural N from the replicon DNA or the RNA that was in vitro transcribed from the replicon DNA. We also showed detection of the negative-stranded genomic RNA (gRNA) and subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) intermediates, a hallmark of replication of positive-stranded RNA viruses from the replicon. Lastly, we showed that expression of the reporter genes, N gene, gRNA, and sgRNA from the replicon was sensitive to inhibition by Remdesivir. Taken together, our results support use of the replicon for identification of anti-SARS2 drugs and development of new anti-SARS strategies targeted at the step of virus replication.


Subject(s)
Replicon , SARS-CoV-2 , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Genes, Reporter , Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics , Green Fluorescent Proteins/metabolism , Luciferases, Firefly/genetics , Luciferases, Firefly/metabolism , Promoter Regions, Genetic , RNA, Guide , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication/drug effects
7.
J Med Virol ; 94(7): 3017-3031, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1756619

ABSTRACT

The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused severe public health crises and heavy economic losses. Limited knowledge about this deadly virus impairs our capacity to set up a toolkit against it. Thus, more studies on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) biology are urgently needed. Reverse genetics systems, including viral infectious clones and replicons, are powerful platforms for viral research projects, spanning many aspects such as the rescues of wild-type or mutant viral particles, the investigation of viral replication mechanism, the characterization of viral protein functions, and the studies on viral pathogenesis and antiviral drug development. The operations on viral infectious clones are strictly limited in the Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) facilities, which are insufficient, especially during the pandemic. In contrast, the operation on the noninfectious replicon can be performed in Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2) facilities, which are widely available. After the outbreak of COVID-19, many reverse genetics systems for SARS-CoV-2, including infectious clones and replicons are developed and given plenty of options for researchers to pick up according to the requirement of their research works. In this review, we summarize the available reverse genetics systems for SARS-CoV-2, by highlighting the features of these systems, and provide a quick guide for researchers, especially those without ample experience in operating viral reverse genetics systems.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Pandemics , Replicon , Reverse Genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
8.
Front Immunol ; 13: 811802, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1731773

ABSTRACT

A mouse model of SARS-CoV-2 that can be developed in any molecular biology lab with standard facilities will be valuable in evaluating drugs and vaccines. Here we present a simplified SARS-CoV-2 mouse model exploiting the rapid adenoviral purification method. Mice that are sensitive to SARS-CoV-2 infection were generated by transducing human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) by an adenovirus. The expression kinetics of the hACE2 in transduced mice were assessed by immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR, and qPCR. Further, the ability of the hACE2 to support viral replication was determined in vitro and in vivo. The hACE2 expression in the lungs of mice was observed for at least nine days after transduction. The murine macrophages expressing hACE2 supported viral replication with detection of high viral titers. Next, in vivo studies were carried out to determine viral replication and lung disease following SARS-CoV-2 challenge. The model supported viral replication, and the challenged mouse developed lung disease characteristic of moderate interstitial pneumonia. Further, we illustrated the utility of the system by demonstrating protection using an oral mRNA vaccine. The multicistronic vaccine design enabled by the viral self-cleaving peptides targets receptor binding domain (RBD), heptad repeat domain (HR), membrane glycoprotein (M) and epitopes of nsp13 of parental SARS-CoV-2. Further, Salmonella and Semliki Forest virus replicon were exploited, respectively, for gene delivery and mRNA expression. We recorded potent cross-protective neutralizing antibodies in immunized mice against the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant. The vaccine protected the mice against viral replication and SARS-CoV-2-induced weight loss and lung pathology. The findings support the suitability of the model for preclinical evaluation of anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapies and vaccines. In addition, the findings provide novel insights into mRNA vaccine design against infectious diseases not limiting to SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Replicon/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vaccines, Synthetic/immunology , /immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Cell Line , Disease Models, Animal , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Lung/virology , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Virus Replication/immunology
9.
J Med Virol ; 94(6): 2438-2452, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1669589

ABSTRACT

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic severely impacts global public health and economies. To facilitate research on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virology and antiviral discovery, a noninfectious viral replicon system operating under biosafety level 2 containment is warranted. We report herein the construction and characterization of two SARS-CoV-2 minigenome replicon systems. First, we constructed the IVT-CoV2-Rep complementary DNA template to generate a replicon messenger RNA (mRNA) with nanoluciferase (NLuc) reporter via in vitro transcription (IVT). The replicon mRNA transfection assay demonstrated a rapid and transient replication of IVT-CoV2-Rep in a variety of cell lines, which could be completely abolished by known SARS-CoV-2 replication inhibitors. Our data also suggest that the transient phenotype of IVT-CoV2-Rep is not due to host innate antiviral responses. In addition, we have developed a DNA-launched replicon BAC-CoV2-Rep, which supports the in-cell transcription of a replicon mRNA as initial replication template. The BAC-CoV2-Rep transient transfection system exhibited a much stronger and longer replicon signal compared to the IVT-CoV2-Rep version. We also found that a portion of the NLuc reporter signal was derived from the spliced BAC-CoV2-Rep mRNA and was resistant to antiviral treatment, especially during the early phase after transfection. In summary, the established SARS-CoV-2 transient replicon systems are suitable for basic and antiviral research, and hold promise for stable replicon cell line development with further optimization.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Humans , Pandemics , RNA, Messenger , Replicon , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Replication
10.
Mol Ther ; 30(5): 1926-1940, 2022 05 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1665550

ABSTRACT

The ongoing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) evolution has resulted in many variants, contributing to the striking drop in vaccine efficacy and necessitating the development of next-generation vaccines to tackle antigenic diversity. Herein we developed a multivalent Semliki Forest virus replicon-based mRNA vaccine targeting the receptor binding domain (RBD), heptad repeat domain (HR), membrane protein (M), and epitopes of non-structural protein 13 (nsp13) of SARS-CoV-2. The bacteria-mediated gene delivery offers the rapid production of large quantities of vaccine at a highly economical scale and notably allows needle-free mass vaccination. Favorable T-helper (Th) 1-dominated potent antibody and cellular immune responses were detected in the immunized mice. Further, immunization induced strong cross-protective neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against the B.1.617.2 delta variant (clade G). We recorded a difference in induction of immunoglobulin (Ig) A response by the immunization route, with the oral route eliciting a strong mucosal secretory IgA (sIgA) response, which possibly has contributed to the enhanced protection conferred by oral immunization. Hamsters immunized orally were completely protected against viral replication in the lungs and the nasal cavity. Importantly, the vaccine protected the hamsters against SARS-CoV-2-induced pneumonia. The study provides proof-of-principle findings for the development of a feasible and efficacious oral mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Bacteria , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/genetics , Cricetinae , Humans , Mice , Replicon , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vaccines, Synthetic , mRNA Vaccines
11.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 11(1): 465-476, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1625432

ABSTRACT

The extremely high transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2 and severe cases of COVID-19 pose the two critical challenges in the battle against COVID-19. Increasing evidence has shown that the viral spike (S) protein-driven syncytia may be responsible for these two events. Intensive attention has thus been devoted to seeking S-guided syncytium inhibitors. However, the current screening campaigns mainly rely on either live virus-based or plasmid-based method, which are always greatly limited by the shortage of high-level biosafety BSL-3 facilities or too much labour-intensive work. Here, we constructed a new hybrid VEEV-SARS-CoV-2-S-eGFP reporter vector through replacement of the structural genes of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) with the S protein of SARS-CoV-2 as the single structural protein. VEEV-SARS-CoV-2-S-eGFP can propagate steadily through cell-to-cell transmission pathway in S- and ACE2-dependent manner, forming GFP positive syncytia. In addition, a significant dose-dependent decay in GFP signals was observed in VEEV-SARS-CoV-2-S-eGFP replicating cells upon treatment with SARS-CoV-2 antiserum or entry inhibitors, providing further evidence that VEEV-SARS-CoV-2-S-eGFP system is highly sensitive to characterize the anti-syncytium-formation activity of antiviral agents. More importantly, the assay is able to be performed in a BSL-2 laboratory without manipulation of live SARS-CoV-2. Taken together, our work establishes a more convenient and efficient VEEV-SARS-CoV-2-S-eGFP replicating cells-based method for rapid screening of inhibitors blocking syncytium formation.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents , Giant Cells , SARS-CoV-2 , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Replicon , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
12.
Viruses ; 14(2)2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1625168

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten healthcare systems worldwide due to the limited access to vaccines, suboptimal treatment options, and the continuous emergence of new and more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants. Reverse-genetics studies of viral genes and mutations have proven highly valuable in advancing basic virus research, leading to the development of therapeutics. We developed a functional and highly versatile full-length SARS-CoV-2 infectious system by cloning the sequence of a COVID-19 associated virus isolate (DK-AHH1) into a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). Viruses recovered after RNA-transfection of in vitro transcripts into Vero E6 cells showed growth kinetics and remdesivir susceptibility similar to the DK-AHH1 virus isolate. Insertion of reporter genes, green fluorescent protein, and nanoluciferase into the ORF7 genomic region led to high levels of reporter activity, which facilitated high throughput treatment experiments. We found that putative coronavirus remdesivir resistance-associated substitutions F480L and V570L-and naturally found polymorphisms A97V, P323L, and N491S, all in nsp12-did not decrease SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility to remdesivir. A nanoluciferase reporter clone with deletion of spike (S), envelope (E), and membrane (M) proteins exhibited high levels of transient replication, was inhibited by remdesivir, and therefore could function as an efficient non-infectious subgenomic replicon system. The developed SARS-CoV-2 reverse-genetics systems, including recombinants to modify infectious viruses and non-infectious subgenomic replicons with autonomous genomic RNA replication, will permit high-throughput cell culture studies-providing fundamental understanding of basic biology of this coronavirus. We have proven the utility of the systems in rapidly introducing mutations in nsp12 and studying their effect on the efficacy of remdesivir, which is used worldwide for the treatment of COVID-19. Our system provides a platform to effectively test the antiviral activity of drugs and the phenotype of SARS-CoV-2 mutants.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Drug Resistance, Viral/genetics , Reverse Genetics/methods , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Replication/genetics , Amino Acid Substitution , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial/genetics , Humans , Polymorphism, Genetic , Replicon/drug effects , Replicon/genetics , Vero Cells
13.
J Virol ; 96(3): e0183721, 2022 02 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546443

ABSTRACT

Research activities with infectious severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are currently permitted only under biosafety level 3 (BSL3) containment. Here, we report the development of a single-cycle infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus replicon particle (VRP) system with a luciferase and green fluorescent protein (GFP) dual reporter that can be safely handled in BSL2 laboratories to study SARS-CoV-2 biology. The spike (S) gene of SARS-CoV-2 encodes the envelope glycoprotein, which is essential for mediating infection of new host cells. Through deletion and replacement of this essential S gene with a luciferase and GFP dual reporter, we have generated a conditional SARS-CoV-2 mutant (ΔS-VRP) that produces infectious particles only in cells expressing a viral envelope glycoprotein of choice. Interestingly, we observed more efficient production of infectious particles in cells expressing vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) glycoprotein G [ΔS-VRP(G)] than in cells expressing other viral glycoproteins, including S. We confirmed that infection from ΔS-VRP(G) is limited to a single round and can be neutralized by anti-VSV serum. In our studies with ΔS-VRP(G), we observed robust expression of both luciferase and GFP reporters in various human and murine cell types, demonstrating that a broad variety of cells can support intracellular replication of SARS-CoV-2. In addition, treatment of ΔS-VRP(G)-infected cells with either of the anti-CoV drugs remdesivir (nucleoside analog) and GC376 (CoV 3CL protease inhibitor) resulted in a robust decrease in both luciferase and GFP expression in a drug dose- and cell-type-dependent manner. Taken together, our findings show that we have developed a single-cycle infectious SARS-CoV-2 VRP system that serves as a versatile platform to study SARS-CoV-2 intracellular biology and to perform high-throughput screening of antiviral drugs under BSL2 containment. IMPORTANCE Due to the highly contagious nature of SARS-CoV-2 and the lack of immunity in the human population, research on SARS-CoV-2 has been restricted to biosafety level 3 laboratories. This has greatly limited participation of the broader scientific community in SARS-CoV-2 research and thus has hindered the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs. By deleting the essential spike gene in the viral genome, we have developed a conditional mutant of SARS-CoV-2 with luciferase and fluorescent reporters, which can be safely used under biosafety level 2 conditions. Our single-cycle infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus replicon system can serve as a versatile platform to study SARS-CoV-2 intracellular biology and to perform high-throughput screening of antiviral drugs under BSL2 containment.


Subject(s)
Genetic Engineering , Recombination, Genetic , Replicon , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Cell Culture Techniques , Cell Line , Containment of Biohazards/standards , Genes, Reporter , Humans , Laboratories/standards , Viral Proteins/genetics , Virus Replication
14.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 6855, 2021 11 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1537312

ABSTRACT

The bat sarbecovirus RaTG13 is a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this bat virus was most likely unable to directly infect humans since its Spike (S) protein does not interact efficiently with the human ACE2 receptor. Here, we show that a single T403R mutation increases binding of RaTG13 S to human ACE2 and allows VSV pseudoparticle infection of human lung cells and intestinal organoids. Conversely, mutation of R403T in the SARS-CoV-2 S reduces pseudoparticle infection and viral replication. The T403R RaTG13 S is neutralized by sera from individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 indicating that vaccination might protect against future zoonoses. Our data suggest that a positively charged amino acid at position 403 in the S protein is critical for efficient utilization of human ACE2 by S proteins of bat coronaviruses. This finding could help to better predict the zoonotic potential of animal coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Animals , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines , Caco-2 Cells , Cloning, Molecular , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Mutation , Replicon , Species Specificity , Stem Cells , Zoonoses
15.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(21)2021 Oct 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1518611

ABSTRACT

Inhaled nebulized interferon (IFN)-α and IFN-ß have been shown to be effective in the management of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We aimed to construct a virus-free rapid detection system for high-throughput screening of IFN-like compounds that induce viral RNA degradation and suppress the replication of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We prepared a SARS-CoV-2 subreplicon RNA expression vector which contained the SARS-CoV-2 5'-UTR, the partial sequence of ORF1a, luciferase, nucleocapsid, ORF10, and 3'-UTR under the control of the cytomegalovirus promoter. The expression vector was transfected into Calu-3 cells and treated with IFN-α and the IFNAR2 agonist CDM-3008 (RO8191) for 3 days. SARS-CoV-2 subreplicon RNA degradation was subsequently evaluated based on luciferase levels. IFN-α and CDM-3008 suppressed SARS-CoV-2 subreplicon RNA in a dose-dependent manner, with IC50 values of 193 IU/mL and 2.54 µM, respectively. HeLa cells stably expressing SARS-CoV-2 subreplicon RNA were prepared and treated with the IFN-α and pan-JAK inhibitor Pyridone 6 or siRNA-targeting ISG20. IFN-α activity was canceled with Pyridone 6. The knockdown of ISG20 partially canceled IFN-α activity. Collectively, we constructed a virus-free rapid detection system to measure SARS-CoV-2 RNA suppression. Our data suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 subreplicon RNA was degraded by IFN-α-induced ISG20 exonuclease activity.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical/methods , Interferon-alpha/pharmacology , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Cell Line, Tumor , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Exoribonucleases/genetics , Genetic Vectors , HeLa Cells , Humans , Interferon-alpha/administration & dosage , Luciferases/genetics , Luciferases/metabolism , Naphthyridines/administration & dosage , Naphthyridines/pharmacology , Oxadiazoles/administration & dosage , Oxadiazoles/pharmacology , RNA, Viral/drug effects , Replicon
16.
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
17.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 6(1): 369, 2021 10 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1483125

ABSTRACT

The lung is the prophylaxis target against SARS-CoV-2 infection, and neutralizing antibodies are a leading class of biological products against various infectious viral pathogen. In this study, we develop a safe and cost-effective platform to express neutralizing antibody in the lung with replicating mRNA basing on alphavirus replicon particle (VRP) delivery system, to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections. First, a modified VEEV replicon with two subgenomic (sg) promoters was engineered to translate the light and heavy chains of antibody simultaneously, for expression and assembly of neutralizing anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody CB6. Second, the feasibility and protective efficacy of replicating mRNA against SARS-CoV-2 infection were demonstrated through both in vitro and in vivo assays. The lung target delivery with the help of VRP system resulted in efficiently block SARS-CoV-2 infection with reducing viral titer and less tissue damage in the lung of mice. Overall, our data suggests that expressing neutralizing antibodies in the lungs with the help of self-replicating mRNA could potentially be a promising prophylaxis approach against SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Alphavirus , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/therapy , Replicon , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/biosynthesis , Antibodies, Neutralizing/genetics , Antibodies, Viral/biosynthesis , Antibodies, Viral/genetics , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cricetinae , Female , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , RNA, Messenger/genetics , RNA, Messenger/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells
18.
Science ; 374(6571): 1099-1106, 2021 Nov 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1467657

ABSTRACT

Molecular virology tools are critical for basic studies of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and for developing new therapeutics. Experimental systems that do not rely on viruses capable of spread are needed for potential use in lower-containment settings. In this work, we use a yeast-based reverse genetics system to develop spike-deleted SARS-CoV-2 self-replicating RNAs. These noninfectious self-replicating RNAs, or replicons, can be trans-complemented with viral glycoproteins to generate replicon delivery particles for single-cycle delivery into a range of cell types. This SARS-CoV-2 replicon system represents a convenient and versatile platform for antiviral drug screening, neutralization assays, host factor validation, and viral variant characterization.


Subject(s)
RNA, Viral/genetics , Replicon/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cell Line , Humans , Interferons/pharmacology , Microbial Sensitivity Tests , Mutation , Plasmids , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Replicon/genetics , Reverse Genetics , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Saccharomyces cerevisiae/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Virion/genetics , Virion/physiology , Virus Replication
19.
Viruses ; 12(6)2020 05 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1389514

ABSTRACT

Single-stranded positive RNA ((+) ssRNA) viruses include several important human pathogens. Some members are responsible for large outbreaks, such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, while others are endemic, causing an enormous global health burden. Since vaccines or specific treatments are not available for most viral infections, the discovery of direct-acting antivirals (DAA) is an urgent need. Still, the low-throughput nature of and biosafety concerns related to traditional antiviral assays hinders the discovery of new inhibitors. With the advances of reverse genetics, reporter replicon systems have become an alternative tool for the screening of DAAs. Herein, we review decades of the use of (+) ssRNA viruses replicon systems for the discovery of antiviral agents. We summarize different strategies used to develop those systems, as well as highlight some of the most promising inhibitors identified by the method. Despite the genetic alterations introduced, reporter replicons have been shown to be reliable systems for screening and identification of viral replication inhibitors and, therefore, an important tool for the discovery of new DAAs.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Drug Discovery/methods , Genes, Reporter/physiology , RNA Viruses/drug effects , Replicon/physiology , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cricetinae , Humans , RNA Viruses/genetics , Transfection , Vero Cells
20.
Mol Ther ; 29(6): 1970-1983, 2021 06 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1386766

ABSTRACT

A self-transcribing and replicating RNA (STARR)-based vaccine (LUNAR-COV19) has been developed to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection. The vaccine encodes an alphavirus-based replicon and the SARS-CoV-2 full-length spike glycoprotein. Translation of the replicon produces a replicase complex that amplifies and prolongs SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein expression. A single prime vaccination in mice led to robust antibody responses, with neutralizing antibody titers increasing up to day 60. Activation of cell-mediated immunity produced a strong viral antigen-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte response. Assaying for intracellular cytokine staining for interferon (IFN)γ and interleukin-4 (IL-4)-positive CD4+ T helper (Th) lymphocytes as well as anti-spike glycoprotein immunoglobulin G (IgG)2a/IgG1 ratios supported a strong Th1-dominant immune response. Finally, single LUNAR-COV19 vaccination at both 2 µg and 10 µg doses completely protected human ACE2 transgenic mice from both mortality and even measurable infection following wild-type SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Our findings collectively suggest the potential of LUNAR-COV19 as a single-dose vaccine.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/biosynthesis , Antibodies, Viral/biosynthesis , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vaccines, Synthetic/administration & dosage , Alphavirus/genetics , Alphavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/drug effects , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/virology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/biosynthesis , COVID-19 Vaccines/genetics , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Female , Gene Expression , Humans , Immunity, Cellular/drug effects , Immunity, Humoral/drug effects , Interferon-gamma/genetics , Interferon-gamma/immunology , Interleukin-4/genetics , Interleukin-4/immunology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Replicon/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Th1 Cells/drug effects , Th1 Cells/immunology , Th1 Cells/virology , Transgenes , Treatment Outcome , Vaccination/methods , Vaccines, Synthetic/biosynthesis , Vaccines, Synthetic/genetics , Vaccines, Synthetic/immunology
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