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1.
J Proteome Res ; 19(4): 1351-1360, 2020 04 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-688546

ABSTRACT

As the infection of 2019-nCoV coronavirus is quickly developing into a global pneumonia epidemic, the careful analysis of its transmission and cellular mechanisms is sorely needed. In this Communication, we first analyzed two recent studies that concluded that snakes are the intermediate hosts of 2019-nCoV and that the 2019-nCoV spike protein insertions share a unique similarity to HIV-1. However, the reimplementation of the analyses, built on larger scale data sets using state-of-the-art bioinformatics methods and databases, presents clear evidence that rebuts these conclusions. Next, using metagenomic samples from Manis javanica, we assembled a draft genome of the 2019-nCoV-like coronavirus, which shows 73% coverage and 91% sequence identity to the 2019-nCoV genome. In particular, the alignments of the spike surface glycoprotein receptor binding domain revealed four times more variations in the bat coronavirus RaTG13 than in the Manis coronavirus compared with 2019-nCoV, suggesting the pangolin as a missing link in the transmission of 2019-nCoV from bats to human.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Models, Molecular , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Eutheria/virology , HIV-1/genetics , Humans , Metagenome , Pandemics , Protein Structure, Tertiary , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Snakes/virology
2.
J Virol ; 94(15)2020 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-661225

ABSTRACT

The emergence of a novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), resulted in a pandemic. Here, we used X-ray structures of human ACE2 bound to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein (S) from SARS-CoV-2 to predict its binding to ACE2 proteins from different animals, including pets, farm animals, and putative intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2. Comparing the interaction sites of ACE2 proteins known to serve or not serve as receptors allows the definition of residues important for binding. From the 20 amino acids in ACE2 that contact S, up to 7 can be replaced and ACE2 can still function as the SARS-CoV-2 receptor. These variable amino acids are clustered at certain positions, mostly at the periphery of the binding site, while changes of the invariable residues prevent S binding or infection of the respective animal. Some ACE2 proteins even tolerate the loss or acquisition of N-glycosylation sites located near the S interface. Of note, pigs and dogs, which are not infected or are not effectively infected and have only a few changes in the binding site, exhibit relatively low levels of ACE2 in the respiratory tract. Comparison of the RBD of S of SARS-CoV-2 with that from bat coronavirus strain RaTG13 (Bat-CoV-RaTG13) and pangolin coronavirus (Pangolin-CoV) strain hCoV-19/pangolin/Guangdong/1/2019 revealed that the latter contains only one substitution, whereas Bat-CoV-RaTG13 exhibits five. However, ACE2 of pangolin exhibits seven changes relative to human ACE2, and a similar number of substitutions is present in ACE2 of bats, raccoon dogs, and civets, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 may not be especially adapted to ACE2 of any of its putative intermediate hosts. These analyses provide new insight into the receptor usage and animal source/origin of SARS-CoV-2.IMPORTANCE SARS-CoV-2 is threatening people worldwide, and there are no drugs or vaccines available to mitigate its spread. The origin of the virus is still unclear, and whether pets and livestock can be infected and transmit SARS-CoV-2 are important and unknown scientific questions. Effective binding to the host receptor ACE2 is the first prerequisite for infection of cells and determines the host range. Our analysis provides a framework for the prediction of potential hosts of SARS-CoV-2. We found that ACE2 from species known to support SARS-CoV-2 infection tolerate many amino acid changes, indicating that the species barrier might be low. Exceptions are dogs and especially pigs, which revealed relatively low ACE2 expression levels in the respiratory tract. Monitoring of animals is necessary to prevent the generation of a new coronavirus reservoir. Finally, our analysis also showed that SARS-CoV-2 may not be specifically adapted to any of its putative intermediate hosts.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/physiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Attachment , Animals , Animals, Domestic , Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Chiroptera/virology , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Dogs , Glycosylation , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Models, Animal , Pandemics , Pets , Pneumonia, Viral/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Raccoons/virology , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Swine , Viverridae/virology
3.
Microbes Infect ; 22(4-5): 182-187, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-626674

ABSTRACT

Envelope protein of coronaviruses is a structural protein existing in both monomeric and homo-pentameric form. It has been related to a multitude of roles including virus infection, replication, dissemination and immune response stimulation. In the present study, we employed an immunoinformatic approach to investigate the major immunogenic domains of the SARS-CoV-2 envelope protein and map them among the homologue proteins of coronaviruses with tropism for animal species that are closely inter-related with the human beings population all over the world. Also, when not available, we predicted the envelope protein structural folding and mapped SARS-CoV-2 epitopes. Envelope sequences alignment provides evidence of high sequence homology for some of the investigated virus specimens; while the structural mapping of epitopes resulted in the interesting maintenance of the structural folding and epitope sequence localization also in the envelope proteins scoring a lower alignment score. In line with the One-Health approach, our evidences provide a molecular structural rationale for a potential role of taxonomically related coronaviruses in conferring protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection and identifying potential candidates for the development of diagnostic tools and prophylactic-oriented strategies.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Computational Biology/methods , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Viral Envelope Proteins/immunology , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Epitope Mapping , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral , Humans , Models, Molecular , One Health , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Protein Conformation , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Analysis, Protein
4.
J Med Microbiol ; 69(6): 864-873, 2020 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-436403

ABSTRACT

Introduction. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has taken humanity off guard. Following an outbreak of SARS-CoV in 2002, and MERS-CoV about 10 years later, SARS-CoV-2 is the third coronavirus in less than 20 years to cross the species barrier and start spreading by human-to-human transmission. It is the most infectious of the three, currently causing the COVID-19 pandemic. No treatment has been approved for COVID-19. We previously proposed targets that can serve as binding sites for antiviral drugs for multiple coronaviruses, and here we set out to find current drugs that can be repurposed as COVID-19 therapeutics.Aim. To identify drugs against COVID-19, we performed an in silico virtual screen with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs targeting the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP), a critical enzyme for coronavirus replication.Methodology. Initially, no RdRP structure of SARS-CoV-2 was available. We performed basic sequence and structural analysis to determine if RdRP from SARS-CoV was a suitable replacement. We performed molecular dynamics simulations to generate multiple starting conformations that were used for the in silico virtual screen. During this work, a structure of RdRP from SARS-CoV-2 became available and was also included in the in silico virtual screen.Results. The virtual screen identified several drugs predicted to bind in the conserved RNA tunnel of RdRP, where many of the proposed targets were located. Among these candidates, quinupristin is particularly interesting because it is expected to bind across the RNA tunnel, blocking access from both sides and suggesting that it has the potential to arrest viral replication by preventing viral RNA synthesis. Quinupristin is an antibiotic that has been in clinical use for two decades and is known to cause relatively minor side effects.Conclusion. Quinupristin represents a potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic. At present, we have no evidence that this drug is effective against SARS-CoV-2 but expect that the biomedical community will expeditiously follow up on our in silico findings.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , RNA Replicase/antagonists & inhibitors , Animals , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Betacoronavirus/enzymology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/physiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical/methods , Drug Synergism , Humans , Molecular Conformation , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , RNA Replicase/drug effects , Rifampin/pharmacology , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Virginiamycin/analogs & derivatives , Virginiamycin/pharmacology , Virus Replication/drug effects
5.
Microbes Infect ; 22(4-5): 182-187, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-346567

ABSTRACT

Envelope protein of coronaviruses is a structural protein existing in both monomeric and homo-pentameric form. It has been related to a multitude of roles including virus infection, replication, dissemination and immune response stimulation. In the present study, we employed an immunoinformatic approach to investigate the major immunogenic domains of the SARS-CoV-2 envelope protein and map them among the homologue proteins of coronaviruses with tropism for animal species that are closely inter-related with the human beings population all over the world. Also, when not available, we predicted the envelope protein structural folding and mapped SARS-CoV-2 epitopes. Envelope sequences alignment provides evidence of high sequence homology for some of the investigated virus specimens; while the structural mapping of epitopes resulted in the interesting maintenance of the structural folding and epitope sequence localization also in the envelope proteins scoring a lower alignment score. In line with the One-Health approach, our evidences provide a molecular structural rationale for a potential role of taxonomically related coronaviruses in conferring protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection and identifying potential candidates for the development of diagnostic tools and prophylactic-oriented strategies.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Computational Biology/methods , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Viral Envelope Proteins/immunology , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Epitope Mapping , Gene Expression Regulation, Viral , Humans , Models, Molecular , One Health , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Protein Conformation , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Analysis, Protein
6.
Int J Antimicrob Agents ; 55(5): 105960, 2020 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-65372

ABSTRACT

The recent emergence of the novel pathogenic SARS-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for a worldwide pandemic. Given the global health emergency, drug repositioning is the most reliable option to design an efficient therapy for infected patients without delay. The first step of the viral replication cycle [i.e. attachment to the surface of respiratory cells, mediated by the spike (S) viral protein] offers several potential therapeutic targets. The S protein uses the angiotension-converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptor for entry, but also sialic acids linked to host cell surface gangliosides. Using a combination of structural and molecular modelling approaches, this study showed that chloroquine (CLQ), one of the drugs currently under investigation for SARS-CoV-2 treatment, binds sialic acids and gangliosides with high affinity. A new type of ganglioside-binding domain at the tip of the N-terminal domain of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein was identified. This domain (111-158), which is fully conserved among clinical isolates worldwide, may improve attachment of the virus to lipid rafts and facilitate contact with the ACE-2 receptor. This study showed that, in the presence of CLQ [or its more active derivative, hydroxychloroquine (CLQ-OH)], the viral S protein is no longer able to bind gangliosides. The identification of this new mechanism of action of CLQ and CLQ-OH supports the use of these repositioned drugs to cure patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. The in-silico approaches used in this study might also be used to assess the efficiency of a broad range of repositioned and/or innovative drug candidates before clinical evaluation.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Chloroquine/pharmacology , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Hydroxychloroquine/pharmacology , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Amino Acid Sequence , Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Chloroquine/chemistry , Chloroquine/therapeutic use , Humans , Hydroxychloroquine/chemistry , Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use , Models, Molecular , Molecular Targeted Therapy , Pandemics , Protein Structure, Quaternary , Protein Structure, Tertiary , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
7.
J Infect Dev Ctries ; 14(1): 3-17, 2020 01 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512

ABSTRACT

On 31 December 2019 the Wuhan Health Commission reported a cluster of atypical pneumonia cases that was linked to a wet market in the city of Wuhan, China. The first patients began experiencing symptoms of illness in mid-December 2019. Clinical isolates were found to contain a novel coronavirus with similarity to bat coronaviruses. As of 28 January 2020, there are in excess of 4,500 laboratory-confirmed cases, with > 100 known deaths. As with the SARS-CoV, infections in children appear to be rare. Travel-related cases have been confirmed in multiple countries and regions outside mainland China including Germany, France, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Canada, and the United States, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. Domestically in China, the virus has also been noted in several cities and provinces with cases in all but one provinence. While zoonotic transmission appears to be the original source of infections, the most alarming development is that human-to-human transmission is now prevelant. Of particular concern is that many healthcare workers have been infected in the current epidemic. There are several critical clinical questions that need to be resolved, including how efficient is human-to-human transmission? What is the animal reservoir? Is there an intermediate animal reservoir? Do the vaccines generated to the SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV or their proteins offer protection against 2019-nCoV? We offer a research perspective on the next steps for the generation of vaccines. We also present data on the use of in silico docking in gaining insight into 2019-nCoV Spike-receptor binding to aid in therapeutic development. Diagnostic PCR protocols can be found at https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus/laboratory-diagnostics-for-novel-coronavirus.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Disease Reservoirs/veterinary , Disease Transmission, Infectious , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Disease Reservoirs/virology , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Travel , Vaccination , Viral Proteins/chemistry , Viral Proteins/genetics , Viral Vaccines , Zoonoses
8.
Pathog Glob Health ; 114(2): 64-67, 2020 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-795

ABSTRACT

The global spread of the 2019-nCoV is continuing and is fast moving, as indicated by the WHO raising the risk assessment to high. In this article, we provide a preliminary phylodynamic and phylogeographic analysis of this new virus. A Maximum Clade Credibility tree has been built using the 29 available whole genome sequences of 2019-nCoV and two whole genome sequences that are highly similar sequences from Bat SARS-like Coronavirus available in GeneBank. We are able to clarify the mechanism of transmission among the countries which have provided the 2019-nCoV sequence isolates from their patients. The Bayesian phylogeographic reconstruction shows that the 2019-2020 nCoV most probably originated from the Bat SARS-like Coronavirus circulating in the Rhinolophus bat family. In agreement with epidemiological observations, the most likely geographic origin of the new outbreak was the city of Wuhan, China, where 2019-nCoV time of the most recent common ancestor emerged, according to molecular clock analysis, around November 25th, 2019. These results, together with previously recorded epidemics, suggest a recurring pattern of periodical epizootic outbreaks due to Betacoronavirus. Moreover, our study describes the same population genetic dynamic underlying the SARS 2003 epidemic, and suggests the urgent need for the development of effective molecular surveillance strategies of Betacoronavirus among animals and Rhinolophus of the bat family.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Chiroptera/virology , Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Coronavirus/genetics , Evolution, Molecular , Genome, Viral , Phylogeny , Pneumonia, Viral/genetics , Animals , Bayes Theorem , China/epidemiology , Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , DNA, Viral/genetics , Disease Outbreaks , Disease Reservoirs/virology , Global Health , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Zoonoses/epidemiology , Zoonoses/genetics
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