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Mol Ther ; 29(3): 1174-1185, 2021 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-985497


Self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) is a cutting-edge platform for both nucleic acid vaccines and therapeutics. saRNA is self-adjuvanting, as it activates types I and III interferon (IFN), which enhances the immunogenicity of RNA vaccines but can also lead to inhibition of translation. In this study, we screened a library of saRNA constructs with cis-encoded innate inhibiting proteins (IIPs) and determined the effect on protein expression and immunogenicity. We observed that the PIV-5 V and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) ORF4a proteins enhance protein expression 100- to 500-fold in vitro in IFN-competent HeLa and MRC5 cells. We found that the MERS-CoV ORF4a protein partially abates dose nonlinearity in vivo, and that ruxolitinib, a potent Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) inhibitor, but not the IIPs, enhances protein expression of saRNA in vivo. Both the PIV-5 V and MERS-CoV ORF4a proteins were found to enhance the percentage of resident cells in human skin explants expressing saRNA and completely rescued dose nonlinearity of saRNA. Finally, we observed that the MERS-CoV ORF4a increased the rabies virus (RABV)-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) titer and neutralization half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) by ∼10-fold in rabbits, but not in mice or rats. These experiments provide a proof of concept that IIPs can be directly encoded into saRNA vectors and effectively abate the nonlinear dose dependency and enhance immunogenicity.

Immunity, Innate/drug effects , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Protein Biosynthesis/drug effects , Vaccines, Synthetic/pharmacology , Viral Envelope Proteins/administration & dosage , Animals , Cell Line , Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine/drug effects , Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine/immunology , Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine/pathogenicity , Fibroblasts , Gene Expression Regulation , HeLa Cells , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Host-Pathogen Interactions/immunology , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/biosynthesis , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/genetics , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/immunology , Janus Kinases/antagonists & inhibitors , Janus Kinases/genetics , Janus Kinases/immunology , Mice , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/drug effects , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/immunology , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , NF-kappa B/genetics , NF-kappa B/immunology , Nitriles , Parainfluenza Virus 5/drug effects , Parainfluenza Virus 5/immunology , Parainfluenza Virus 5/pathogenicity , Pyrazoles/pharmacology , Pyrimidines , Rabbits , Rabies virus/drug effects , Rabies virus/immunology , Rabies virus/pathogenicity , Rats , STAT Transcription Factors/antagonists & inhibitors , STAT Transcription Factors/genetics , STAT Transcription Factors/immunology , Signal Transduction , Vaccines, Synthetic/biosynthesis , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/immunology
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(4)2021 Feb 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1069829


Alzheimer's disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder and represents the main cause of dementia globally. Currently, the world is suffering from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a virus that uses angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a receptor to enter the host cells. In COVID-19, neurological manifestations have been reported to occur. The present study demonstrates that the protein expression level of ACE2 is upregulated in the brain of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The increased ACE2 expression is not age-dependent, suggesting the direct relationship between Alzheimer's disease and ACE2 expression. Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, and brains with the disease examined in this study also exhibited higher carbonylated proteins, as well as an increased thiol oxidation state of peroxiredoxin 6 (Prx6). A moderate positive correlation was found between the increased ACE2 protein expression and oxidative stress in brains with Alzheimer's disease. In summary, the present study reveals the relationships between Alzheimer's disease and ACE2, the receptor for SARS-CoV-2. These results suggest the importance of carefully monitoring patients with both Alzheimer's disease and COVID-19 in order to identify higher viral loads in the brain and long-term adverse neurological consequences.

Alzheimer Disease/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/metabolism , Hippocampus/metabolism , Pandemics , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Up-Regulation , Alzheimer Disease/complications , Alzheimer Disease/pathology , Amyloid beta-Peptides/metabolism , Autopsy , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/virology , Hippocampus/pathology , Humans , Oxidation-Reduction , Oxidative Stress , Peroxiredoxin VI/metabolism , Plaque, Amyloid/metabolism , Protein Carbonylation , Severity of Illness Index , Virus Internalization
Ann Transl Med ; 8(21): 1403, 2020 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-962742


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been characterized as a pandemic around the world. Cardiac complications can occur in patients with COVID-19 and can be fatal in severe cases. Recently, it was reported that SARS-CoV-2 used the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a cellular receptor to gain entry into the host cell. However, whether SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect heart tissues and the potential mechanism of cardiac injury in COVID-19 have not been determined. METHODS: To investigate the expression of ACE2 in heart tissues, we performed a bioinformatic analysis from public databases involving mRNA and protein expression. The correlation between ACE2 expression and virus-related genes was analyzed using the Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis (GEPIA) database. Gene ontology (GO) and protein-protein interaction (PPI) analyses were performed to explore the roles of ACE2. RESULTS: ACE2 expression in the heart was significantly higher than that in the lung. Compared with the other coronavirus receptors, such as aminopeptidase N (ANPEP) or dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), the mRNA and protein expression of ACE2 was increased in the heart. Moreover, the mRNA expression of ACE2 was substantially upregulated in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Importantly, the expression of ACE2 was positively correlated with genes that regulate viral reproduction and transmission. The GO and PPI analyses showed that the functions of proteins interacting with ACE2 were significantly enriched in the regulation of the viral process and inflammatory response. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provided bioinformatics evidence that the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and ACE2 in the heart could contribute to COVID-19-mediated myocardial damage via the virus-induced cytopathic effect, triggering a cardiac inflammatory storm. Therefore, the close monitoring of cardiac function and early clinical intervention may be pivotal to preventing cardiac injury-related mortality in patients with COVID-19.