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1.
Viruses ; 13(12)2021 12 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1702075

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein mediates attachment of the virus to the host cell receptor and fusion between the virus and the cell membrane. The S1 subunit of the spike glycoprotein (S1 protein) contains the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor binding domain. The SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern contain mutations in the S1 subunit. The spike protein is the primary target of neutralizing antibodies generated following infection, and constitutes the viral component of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. METHODS: Therefore, in this work we assessed the effect of exposure (24 h) to 10 nM SARS-CoV-2 recombinant S1 protein on physiologically relevant human bronchial (bro) and alveolar (alv) lung mucosa models cultured at air-liquid interface (ALI) (n = 6 per exposure condition). Corresponding sham exposed samples served as a control. The bro-ALI model was developed using primary bronchial epithelial cells and the alv-ALI model using representative type II pneumocytes (NCI-H441). RESULTS: Exposure to S1 protein induced the surface expression of ACE2, toll like receptor (TLR) 2, and TLR4 in both bro-ALI and alv-ALI models. Transcript expression analysis identified 117 (bro-ALI) and 97 (alv-ALI) differentially regulated genes (p ≤ 0.01). Pathway analysis revealed enrichment of canonical pathways such as interferon (IFN) signaling, influenza, coronavirus, and anti-viral response in the bro-ALI. Secreted levels of interleukin (IL) 4 and IL12 were significantly (p < 0.05) increased, whereas IL6 decreased in the bro-ALI. In the case of alv-ALI, enriched terms involving p53, APRIL (a proliferation-inducing ligand) tight junction, integrin kinase, and IL1 signaling were identified. These terms are associated with lung fibrosis. Further, significantly (p < 0.05) increased levels of secreted pro-inflammatory cytokines IFNγ, IL1ꞵ, IL2, IL4, IL6, IL8, IL10, IL13, and tumor necrosis factor alpha were detected in alv-ALI, whereas IL12 was decreased. Altered levels of these cytokines are also associated with lung fibrotic response. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, we observed a typical anti-viral response in the bronchial model and a pro-fibrotic response in the alveolar model. The bro-ALI and alv-ALI models may serve as an easy and robust platform for assessing the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern at different lung regions.


Subject(s)
Lung/metabolism , Respiratory Mucosa/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Bronchi/metabolism , Cytokines/metabolism , Gene Expression Profiling , Humans , Models, Biological , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Recombinant Proteins/chemistry , Recombinant Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Toll-Like Receptor 2/metabolism , Toll-Like Receptor 4/metabolism
2.
Elife ; 102021 12 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1594792

ABSTRACT

The pathogenesis of COVID-19 is associated with a hyperinflammatory response; however, the precise mechanism of SARS-CoV-2-induced inflammation is poorly understood. Here, we investigated direct inflammatory functions of major structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2. We observed that spike (S) protein potently induced inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, including IL-6, IL-1ß, TNFα, CXCL1, CXCL2, and CCL2, but not IFNs in human and mouse macrophages. No such inflammatory response was observed in response to membrane (M), envelope (E), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins. When stimulated with extracellular S protein, human and mouse lung epithelial cells also produced inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Interestingly, epithelial cells expressing S protein intracellularly were non-inflammatory, but elicited an inflammatory response in macrophages when co-cultured. Biochemical studies revealed that S protein triggers inflammation via activation of the NF-κB pathway in a MyD88-dependent manner. Further, such an activation of the NF-κB pathway was abrogated in Tlr2-deficient macrophages. Consistently, administration of S protein-induced IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1ß in wild-type, but not Tlr2-deficient mice. Notably, upon recognition of S protein, TLR2 dimerizes with TLR1 or TLR6 to activate the NF-κB pathway. Taken together, these data reveal a mechanism for the cytokine storm during SARS-CoV-2 infection and suggest that TLR2 could be a potential therapeutic target for COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Inflammation/virology , NF-kappa B/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Toll-Like Receptor 2/genetics , A549 Cells , Animals , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mice , Signal Transduction , Toll-Like Receptor 2/metabolism
3.
J Virol ; 95(23): e0139621, 2021 11 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1434896

ABSTRACT

Emerging evidence suggests that endothelial activation plays a central role in the pathogenesis of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiorgan failure in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying endothelial activation in COVID-19 patients remain unclear. In this study, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral proteins that potently activate human endothelial cells were screened to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in endothelial activation. It was found that nucleocapsid protein (NP) of SARS-CoV-2 significantly activated human endothelial cells through Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2)/NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways. Moreover, by screening a natural microbial compound library containing 154 natural compounds, simvastatin was identified as a potent inhibitor of NP-induced endothelial activation. Remarkably, though the protein sequences of N proteins from coronaviruses are highly conserved, only NP from SARS-CoV-2 induced endothelial activation. The NPs from other coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), HUB1-CoV, and influenza virus H1N1 did not activate endothelial cells. These findings are consistent with the results from clinical investigations showing broad endotheliitis and organ injury in severe COVID-19 patients. In conclusion, the study provides insights on SARS-CoV-2-induced vasculopathy and coagulopathy and suggests that simvastatin, an FDA-approved lipid-lowering drug, may help prevent the pathogenesis and improve the outcome of COVID-19 patients. IMPORTANCE Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is a worldwide challenge for health care systems. The leading cause of mortality in patients with COVID-19 is hypoxic respiratory failure from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). To date, pulmonary endothelial cells (ECs) have been largely overlooked as a therapeutic target in COVID-19, yet emerging evidence suggests that these cells contribute to the initiation and propagation of ARDS by altering vessel barrier integrity, promoting a procoagulative state, inducing vascular inflammation and mediating inflammatory cell infiltration. Therefore, a better mechanistic understanding of the vasculature is of utmost importance. In this study, we screened the SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins that potently activate human endothelial cells and found that nucleocapsid protein (NP) significantly activated human endothelial cells through TLR2/NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways. Moreover, by screening a natural microbial compound library containing 154 natural compounds, simvastatin was identified as a potent inhibitor of NP-induced endothelial activation. Our results provide insights on SARS-CoV-2-induced vasculopathy and coagulopathy, and suggests that simvastatin, an FDA-approved lipid-lowering drug, may benefit to prevent the pathogenesis and improve the outcome of COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Endothelial Cells/drug effects , Endothelial Cells/metabolism , Endothelial Cells/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Signal Transduction , Simvastatin/pharmacology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells , Humans , Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases/metabolism , NF-kappa B/metabolism , Toll-Like Receptor 2/metabolism
4.
Nat Immunol ; 22(7): 829-838, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1220263

ABSTRACT

The innate immune response is critical for recognizing and controlling infections through the release of cytokines and chemokines. However, severe pathology during some infections, including SARS-CoV-2, is driven by hyperactive cytokine release, or a cytokine storm. The innate sensors that activate production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines during COVID-19 remain poorly characterized. In the present study, we show that both TLR2 and MYD88 expression were associated with COVID-19 disease severity. Mechanistically, TLR2 and Myd88 were required for ß-coronavirus-induced inflammatory responses, and TLR2-dependent signaling induced the production of proinflammatory cytokines during coronavirus infection independent of viral entry. TLR2 sensed the SARS-CoV-2 envelope protein as its ligand. In addition, blocking TLR2 signaling in vivo provided protection against the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Overall, our study provides a critical understanding of the molecular mechanism of ß-coronavirus sensing and inflammatory cytokine production, which opens new avenues for therapeutic strategies to counteract the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Coronavirus Envelope Proteins/metabolism , Cytokine Release Syndrome/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Toll-Like Receptor 2/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cytokine Release Syndrome/diagnosis , Cytokines/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Gene Expression Profiling , Humans , Immunity, Innate/drug effects , Leukocytes, Mononuclear , Macrophages , Male , Mice , Mice, Knockout , Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88/genetics , Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88/metabolism , Primary Cell Culture , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Severity of Illness Index , Signal Transduction/drug effects , Signal Transduction/genetics , Signal Transduction/immunology , Toll-Like Receptor 2/antagonists & inhibitors , Toll-Like Receptor 2/genetics , Vero Cells
5.
Sci Adv ; 7(6)2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1066791

ABSTRACT

Dysregulations in the inflammatory response of the body to pathogens could progress toward a hyperinflammatory condition amplified by positive feedback loops and associated with increased severity and mortality. Hence, there is a need for identifying therapeutic targets to modulate this pathological immune response. Here, we propose a single cell-based computational methodology for predicting proteins to modulate the dysregulated inflammatory response based on the reconstruction and analysis of functional cell-cell communication networks of physiological and pathological conditions. We validated the proposed method in 12 human disease datasets and performed an in-depth study of patients with mild and severe symptomatology of the coronavirus disease 2019 for predicting novel therapeutic targets. As a result, we identified the extracellular matrix protein versican and Toll-like receptor 2 as potential targets for modulating the inflammatory response. In summary, the proposed method can be of great utility in systematically identifying therapeutic targets for modulating pathological immune responses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Immunologic Factors/metabolism , Inflammation/pathology , Systems Biology/methods , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Communication , Cytokines/genetics , Cytokines/metabolism , Humans , Immunity, Innate , Lymphocytes/cytology , Lymphocytes/immunology , Lymphocytes/metabolism , Receptors, Chemokine/genetics , Receptors, Chemokine/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Severity of Illness Index , Toll-Like Receptor 2/antagonists & inhibitors , Toll-Like Receptor 2/metabolism , Versicans/antagonists & inhibitors , Versicans/metabolism
6.
Sci Rep ; 10(1): 10895, 2020 07 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-629396

ABSTRACT

In the past two decades, 7 coronaviruses have infected the human population, with two major outbreaks caused by SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV in the year 2002 and 2012, respectively. Currently, the entire world is facing a pandemic of another coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, with a high fatality rate. The spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 mediates entry of virus into the host cell and is one of the most important antigenic determinants, making it a potential candidate for a vaccine. In this study, we have computationally designed a multi-epitope vaccine using spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. The overall quality of the candidate vaccine was validated in silico and Molecular Dynamics Simulation confirmed the stability of the designed vaccine. Docking studies revealed stable interactions of the vaccine with Toll-Like Receptors and MHC Receptors. The in silico cloning and codon optimization supported the proficient expression of the designed vaccine in E. coli expression system. The efficiency of the candidate vaccine to trigger an effective immune response was assessed by an in silico immune simulation. The computational analyses suggest that the designed multi-epitope vaccine is structurally stable which can induce specific immune responses and thus, can be a potential vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/immunology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Viral Vaccines/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Antibody Affinity/immunology , Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/genetics , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Histocompatibility Antigens/immunology , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Phylogeny , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Protein Structure, Tertiary , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Toll-Like Receptor 2/immunology , Toll-Like Receptor 2/metabolism , Toll-Like Receptor 4/immunology , Toll-Like Receptor 4/metabolism , Viral Vaccines/metabolism
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