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1.
Arch Toxicol ; 95(4): 1179-1226, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1384375

ABSTRACT

Here, we addressed the pharmacology and toxicology of synthetic organoselenium compounds and some naturally occurring organoselenium amino acids. The use of selenium as a tool in organic synthesis and as a pharmacological agent goes back to the middle of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. The rediscovery of ebselen and its investigation in clinical trials have motivated the search for new organoselenium molecules with pharmacological properties. Although ebselen and diselenides have some overlapping pharmacological properties, their molecular targets are not identical. However, they have similar anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, possibly, via activation of transcription factors, regulating the expression of antioxidant genes. In short, our knowledge about the pharmacological properties of simple organoselenium compounds is still elusive. However, contrary to our early expectations that they could imitate selenoproteins, organoselenium compounds seem to have non-specific modulatory activation of antioxidant pathways and specific inhibitory effects in some thiol-containing proteins. The thiol-oxidizing properties of organoselenium compounds are considered the molecular basis of their chronic toxicity; however, the acute use of organoselenium compounds as inhibitors of specific thiol-containing enzymes can be of therapeutic significance. In summary, the outcomes of the clinical trials of ebselen as a mimetic of lithium or as an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 proteases will be important to the field of organoselenium synthesis. The development of computational techniques that could predict rational modifications in the structure of organoselenium compounds to increase their specificity is required to construct a library of thiol-modifying agents with selectivity toward specific target proteins.


Subject(s)
Organoselenium Compounds/pharmacology , Organoselenium Compounds/toxicity , Amino Acids/chemistry , Animals , Azoles , Humans , Isoindoles , Molecular Structure , Selenium/chemistry , Selenium/physiology , Selenoproteins/chemistry , Sulfhydryl Compounds/chemistry
2.
Microorganisms ; 9(1)2021 Jan 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1389447

ABSTRACT

The expression rate of SARS-CoV-2 entry genes, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the main viral receptor and the proteases, furin and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) in cystic fibrosis (CF) individuals is poorly known. Hence, we examined their levels in upper respiratory samples of CF patients (n = 46) and healthy controls (n = 45). Moreover, we sought to understand the interplay of type I interferon (IFN-I) with ACE2, furin and TMPRSS2 by evaluating their gene expression with respect to ISG15, a well-known marker of IFN activation, in upper respiratory samples and after ex vivo IFNß exposure. Lower ACE2 levels and trends toward the reduction of furin and TMPRSS2 were found in CF patients compared with the healthy controls; decreased ACE2 amounts were also detected in CF individuals with pancreatic insufficiency and in those receiving inhaled antibiotics. Moreover, there was a strong positive correlation between ISG15 and ACE2 levels. However, after ex vivo IFNß stimulation of nasopharyngeal cells, the truncated isoform (dACE2), recently demonstrated as the IFN stimulated one with respect to the full-length isoform (flACE2), slightly augmented in cells from CF patients whereas in those from healthy donors, dACE2 levels showed variable levels of upregulation. An altered expression of SARS-COV-2 entry genes and a poor responsiveness of dACE2 to IFN-I stimulation might be crucial in the diffusion of SARS-CoV-2 infection in CF.

3.
J Phys Chem Lett ; 12(17): 4195-4202, 2021 May 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387119

ABSTRACT

The catalytic reaction in SARS-CoV-2 main protease is activated by a proton transfer (PT) from Cys145 to His41. The same PT is likely also required for the covalent binding of some inhibitors. Here we use a multiscale computational approach to investigate the PT thermodynamics in the apo enzyme and in complex with two potent inhibitors, N3 and the α-ketoamide 13b. We show that with the inhibitors the free energy cost to reach the charge-separated state of the active-site dyad is lower, with N3 inducing the most significant reduction. We also show that a few key sites (including specific water molecules) significantly enhance or reduce the thermodynamic feasibility of the PT reaction, with selective desolvation of the active site playing a crucial role. The approach presented is a cost-effective procedure to identify the enzyme regions that control the activation of the catalytic reaction and is thus also useful to guide the design of inhibitors.


Subject(s)
Drug Design , Protease Inhibitors/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Viral Matrix Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , Biocatalysis , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Catalytic Domain , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Protease Inhibitors/metabolism , Protons , Quantum Theory , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Thermodynamics , Viral Matrix Proteins/metabolism
4.
Infect Drug Resist ; 14: 1883-1892, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1256163

ABSTRACT

The current global pandemic of a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 continues with its public health disaster beginning from late December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. The scientific community has tried to fight against this novel coronavirus through vaccine development and designing different candidate drugs. However, there is no well-defined therapy to prevent 2019-nCov infection, thus complete prevention of the virus remains difficult. Therefore, it is a critical factor for death of millions worldwide. Many clinical trials and insights are ongoing in the struggle with this pandemic of SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 entry into the host cell requires host cell angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) and glucose regulated protein 78 (GRP78). On the other hand, proteolytic activation of the viral spike protein (S protein) needs the host cell serine proteases, including transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), cathepsins, trypsin and furin. This review focuses on the protein involved in the mechanism of entry, and proteolytic activation. In addition, it looks at current therapeutic options for SARS-CoV-2.

5.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(9)2021 May 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1224028

ABSTRACT

Numbers of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have increased rapidly worldwide. Plasma levels of full-length galectin-9 (FL-Gal9) and osteopontin (FL-OPN) as well as their truncated forms (Tr-Gal9, Ud-OPN, respectively), are representative inflammatory biomarkers. Here, we measured FL-Gal9, FL-OPN, Tr-Gal9, and Ud-OPN in 94 plasma samples obtained from 23 COVID-19-infected patients with mild clinical symptoms (CV), 25 COVID-19 patients associated with pneumonia (CP), and 14 patients with bacterial infection (ID). The four proteins were significantly elevated in the CP group when compared with healthy individuals. ROC analysis between the CV and CP groups showed that C-reactive protein had the highest ability to differentiate, followed by Tr-Gal9 and ferritin. Spearman's correlation analysis showed that Tr-Gal9 and Ud-OPN but not FL-Gal9 and FL-OPN, had a significant association with laboratory markers for lung function, inflammation, coagulopathy, and kidney function in CP patients. CP patients treated with tocilizumab had reduced levels of FL-Gal9, Tr-Gal9, and Ud-OPN. It was suggested that OPN is cleaved by interleukin-6-dependent proteases. These findings suggest that the cleaved forms of OPN and galectin-9 can be used to monitor the severity of pathological inflammation and the therapeutic effects of tocilizumab in CP patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/blood , Galectins/blood , Osteopontin/blood , Pneumonia/blood , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/blood , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/therapeutic use , Biomarkers/metabolism , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/physiopathology , Female , Humans , Inflammation/metabolism , Kidney/metabolism , Kidney/pathology , Kidney/virology , Male , Middle Aged , Pneumonia/complications , Pneumonia/drug therapy , Pneumonia/virology , ROC Curve , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/complications , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/drug therapy , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/virology , Severity of Illness Index , Young Adult
6.
J Biomol Struct Dyn ; : 1-12, 2021 May 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1221313

ABSTRACT

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread rapidly across the globe and has involved more than 215 countries and territories. Due to a lack of effective therapy or vaccine, urgent and concerted efforts are needed to identify therapeutic targets and medications. COVID-19 main protease represents a major target for drug treatment to inhibit viral function. The present study sought to evaluate medicinal plant compounds as potential inhibitors of the COVID-19 main protease using molecular docking and molecular dynamic analysis. The PDB files of COVID-19 main protease and some medicinal plant compounds were retrieved from the Protein Data Bank (http://www.rcsb.org) and Pubchem server, respectively. The Gromacs software was used for simulation studies, and molecular docking analysis was done using Autodock 4.2. The COVID-19 main protease simulation, compared with some phytochemicals docked to the COVID-19 main protease, were analyzed. Glabridin, catechin, and fisetin had the greatest tendency to interact with the COVID-19 main protease by hydrogen and hydrophobic interactions. Docking of these phytochemicals to COVID-19 main protease led to an increase in the radius of gyration (Rg), decrease in the Root mean square fluctuation (RMSF), and induced variation in COVID-19 main protease secondary structure. The high tendency interaction of glabridin, catechin, and fisetin to COVID-19 main protease induced conformational changes on this enzyme. These interactions can lead to enzyme inhibition. This simulated study indicates that these phytochemicals may be considered as potent inhibitors of the viral protease; however, more investigations are required to explore their potential medicinal use.Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.

7.
J Biomol Struct Dyn ; : 1-13, 2021 May 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1216502

ABSTRACT

The recent outbreak caused by SARS-CoV-2 continues to threat and take many lives all over the world. The lack of an efficient pharmacological treatments are serious problems to be faced by scientists and medical staffs worldwide. In this work, an in silico approach based on the combination of molecular docking, dynamics simulations, and quantum biochemistry revealed that the synthetic peptides RcAlb-PepI, PepGAT, and PepKAA, strongly interact with the main protease (Mpro) a pivotal protein for SARS-CoV-2 replication. Although not binding to the proteolytic site of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, RcAlb-PepI, PepGAT, and PepKAA interact with other protein domain and allosterically altered the protease topology. Indeed, such peptide-SARS-CoV-2 Mpro complexes provoked dramatic alterations in the three-dimensional structure of Mpro leading to area and volume shrinkage of the proteolytic site, which could affect the protease activity and thus the virus replication. Based on these findings, it is suggested that RcAlb-PepI, PepGAT, and PepKAA could interfere with SARS-CoV-2 Mpro role in vivo. Also, unlike other antiviral drugs, these peptides have no toxicity to human cells. This pioneering in silico investigation opens up opportunity for further in vivo research on these peptides, towards discovering new drugs and entirely new perspectives to treat COVID-19.Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.

8.
Int J Biol Sci ; 17(6): 1547-1554, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1206441

ABSTRACT

Suppression of type I interferon (IFN) response is one pathological outcome of the infection of highly pathogenic human coronaviruses. To effect this, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and SARS-CoV-2 encode multiple IFN antagonists. In this study, we reported on the IFN antagonism of SARS-CoV-2 main protease NSP5. NSP5 proteins of both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 counteracted Sendai virus-induced IFN production. NSP5 variants G15S and K90R commonly seen in circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2 retained the IFN-antagonizing property. The suppressive effect of NSP5 on IFN-ß gene transcription induced by RIG-I, MAVS, TBK1 and IKKϵ suggested that NSP5 likely acts at a step downstream of IRF3 phosphorylation in the cytoplasm. NSP5 did not influence steady-state expression or phosphorylation of IRF3, suggesting that IRF3, regardless of its phosphorylation state, might not be the substrate of NSP5 protease. However, nuclear translocation of phosphorylated IRF3 was severely compromised in NSP5-expressing cells. Taken together, our work revealed a new mechanism by which NSP5 proteins encoded by SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 antagonize IFN production by retaining phosphorylated IRF3 in the cytoplasm. Our findings have implications in rational design and development of antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Cell Nucleus/metabolism , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Interferon Regulatory Factor-3/metabolism , Interferon Type I/biosynthesis , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Phosphorylation , Protein Transport , Vero Cells
9.
Protein Cell ; 12(11): 877-888, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1188202

ABSTRACT

A new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified as the etiologic agent for the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, effective treatment options remain very limited for this disease; therefore, there is an urgent need to identify new anti-COVID-19 agents. In this study, we screened over 6,000 compounds that included approved drugs, drug candidates in clinical trials, and pharmacologically active compounds to identify leads that target the SARS-CoV-2 papain-like protease (PLpro). Together with main protease (Mpro), PLpro is responsible for processing the viral replicase polyprotein into functional units. Therefore, it is an attractive target for antiviral drug development. Here we discovered four compounds, YM155, cryptotanshinone, tanshinone I and GRL0617 that inhibit SARS-CoV-2 PLpro with IC50 values ranging from 1.39 to 5.63 µmol/L. These compounds also exhibit strong antiviral activities in cell-based assays. YM155, an anticancer drug candidate in clinical trials, has the most potent antiviral activity with an EC50 value of 170 nmol/L. In addition, we have determined the crystal structures of this enzyme and its complex with YM155, revealing a unique binding mode. YM155 simultaneously targets three "hot" spots on PLpro, including the substrate-binding pocket, the interferon stimulating gene product 15 (ISG15) binding site and zinc finger motif. Our results demonstrate the efficacy of this screening and repurposing strategy, which has led to the discovery of new drug leads with clinical potential for COVID-19 treatments.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/chemistry , High-Throughput Screening Assays/methods , Protease Inhibitors/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Binding Sites , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/virology , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/genetics , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/metabolism , Crystallography, X-Ray , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Drug Repositioning , Humans , Imidazoles/chemistry , Imidazoles/metabolism , Imidazoles/therapeutic use , Inhibitory Concentration 50 , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Mutagenesis, Site-Directed , Naphthoquinones/chemistry , Naphthoquinones/metabolism , Naphthoquinones/therapeutic use , Protease Inhibitors/metabolism , Protease Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Protein Structure, Tertiary , Recombinant Proteins/biosynthesis , Recombinant Proteins/chemistry , Recombinant Proteins/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
10.
Arch Toxicol ; 95(4): 1179-1226, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1162995

ABSTRACT

Here, we addressed the pharmacology and toxicology of synthetic organoselenium compounds and some naturally occurring organoselenium amino acids. The use of selenium as a tool in organic synthesis and as a pharmacological agent goes back to the middle of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. The rediscovery of ebselen and its investigation in clinical trials have motivated the search for new organoselenium molecules with pharmacological properties. Although ebselen and diselenides have some overlapping pharmacological properties, their molecular targets are not identical. However, they have similar anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, possibly, via activation of transcription factors, regulating the expression of antioxidant genes. In short, our knowledge about the pharmacological properties of simple organoselenium compounds is still elusive. However, contrary to our early expectations that they could imitate selenoproteins, organoselenium compounds seem to have non-specific modulatory activation of antioxidant pathways and specific inhibitory effects in some thiol-containing proteins. The thiol-oxidizing properties of organoselenium compounds are considered the molecular basis of their chronic toxicity; however, the acute use of organoselenium compounds as inhibitors of specific thiol-containing enzymes can be of therapeutic significance. In summary, the outcomes of the clinical trials of ebselen as a mimetic of lithium or as an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 proteases will be important to the field of organoselenium synthesis. The development of computational techniques that could predict rational modifications in the structure of organoselenium compounds to increase their specificity is required to construct a library of thiol-modifying agents with selectivity toward specific target proteins.


Subject(s)
Organoselenium Compounds/pharmacology , Organoselenium Compounds/toxicity , Amino Acids/chemistry , Animals , Azoles , Humans , Isoindoles , Molecular Structure , Selenium/chemistry , Selenium/physiology , Selenoproteins/chemistry , Sulfhydryl Compounds/chemistry
11.
Virol J ; 18(1): 66, 2021 03 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1158210

ABSTRACT

Beginning in late 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as a novel pathogen that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 111 million people worldwide and caused over 2.47 million deaths. Individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 show symptoms of fever, cough, dyspnea, and fatigue with severe cases that can develop into pneumonia, myocarditis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, hypercoagulability, and even multi-organ failure. Current clinical management consists largely of supportive care as commonly administered treatments, including convalescent plasma, remdesivir, and high-dose glucocorticoids. These have demonstrated modest benefits in a small subset of hospitalized patients, with only dexamethasone showing demonstrable efficacy in reducing mortality and length of hospitalization. At this time, no SARS-CoV-2-specific antiviral drugs are available, although several vaccines have been approved for use in recent months. In this review, we will evaluate the efficacy of preclinical and clinical drugs that precisely target three different, essential steps of the SARS-CoV-2 replication cycle: the spike protein during entry, main protease (MPro) during proteolytic activation, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) during transcription. We will assess the advantages and limitations of drugs that precisely target evolutionarily well-conserved domains, which are less likely to mutate, and therefore less likely to escape the effects of these drugs. We propose that a multi-drug cocktail targeting precise proteins, critical to the viral replication cycle, such as spike protein, MPro, and RdRp, will be the most effective strategy of inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 replication and limiting its spread in the general population.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Animals , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/therapy , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Humans , Immunization, Passive , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Virus Replication/drug effects
12.
Front Immunol ; 12: 650331, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1156125

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection represents a global health crisis. Immune cell activation via pattern recognition receptors has been implicated as a driver of the hyperinflammatory response seen in COVID-19. However, our understanding of the specific immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 remains limited. Mast cells (MCs) and eosinophils are innate immune cells that play pathogenic roles in many inflammatory responses. Here we report MC-derived proteases and eosinophil-associated mediators are elevated in COVID-19 patient sera and lung tissues. Stimulation of viral-sensing toll-like receptors in vitro and administration of synthetic viral RNA in vivo induced features of hyperinflammation, including cytokine elevation, immune cell airway infiltration, and MC-protease production-effects suppressed by an anti-Siglec-8 monoclonal antibody which selectively inhibits MCs and depletes eosinophils. Similarly, anti-Siglec-8 treatment reduced disease severity and airway inflammation in a respiratory viral infection model. These results suggest that MC and eosinophil activation are associated with COVID-19 inflammation and anti-Siglec-8 antibodies are a potential therapeutic approach for attenuating excessive inflammation during viral infections.


Subject(s)
Antigens, CD/immunology , Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Eosinophils/immunology , Lectins/immunology , Mast Cells/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Viruses/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Toll-Like Receptors/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/pharmacology , Antigens, CD/genetics , Antigens, CD/metabolism , Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte/genetics , Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte/metabolism , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Case-Control Studies , Cytokines/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Eosinophils/drug effects , Eosinophils/metabolism , Eosinophils/virology , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Lectins/antagonists & inhibitors , Lectins/genetics , Lectins/metabolism , Mast Cells/drug effects , Mast Cells/metabolism , Mast Cells/virology , Mice, Transgenic , Peptide Hydrolases/metabolism , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/metabolism , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/prevention & control , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/virology , Toll-Like Receptors/metabolism
13.
J Virol ; 95(9)2021 04 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1093846

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infects cells through interaction of its spike protein (SARS2-S) with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and activation by proteases, in particular transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2). Viruses can also spread through fusion of infected with uninfected cells. We compared the requirements of ACE2 expression, proteolytic activation, and sensitivity to inhibitors for SARS2-S-mediated and SARS-CoV-S (SARS1-S)-mediated cell-cell fusion. SARS2-S-driven fusion was moderately increased by TMPRSS2 and strongly by ACE2, while SARS1-S-driven fusion was strongly increased by TMPRSS2 and less so by ACE2 expression. In contrast to that of SARS1-S, SARS2-S-mediated cell-cell fusion was efficiently activated by batimastat-sensitive metalloproteases. Mutation of the S1/S2 proteolytic cleavage site reduced effector cell-target cell fusion when ACE2 or TMPRSS2 was limiting and rendered SARS2-S-driven cell-cell fusion more dependent on TMPRSS2. When both ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were abundant, initial target cell-effector cell fusion was unaltered compared to that of wild-type (wt) SARS2-S, but syncytia remained smaller. Mutation of the S2 cleavage (S2') site specifically abrogated activation by TMPRSS2 for both cell-cell fusion and SARS2-S-driven pseudoparticle entry but still allowed for activation by metalloproteases for cell-cell fusion and by cathepsins for particle entry. Finally, we found that the TMPRSS2 inhibitor bromhexine, unlike the inhibitor camostat, was unable to reduce TMPRSS2-activated cell-cell fusion by SARS1-S and SARS2-S. Paradoxically, bromhexine enhanced cell-cell fusion in the presence of TMPRSS2, while its metabolite ambroxol exhibited inhibitory activity under some conditions. On Calu-3 lung cells, ambroxol weakly inhibited SARS2-S-driven lentiviral pseudoparticle entry, and both substances exhibited a dose-dependent trend toward weak inhibition of authentic SARS-CoV-2.IMPORTANCE Cell-cell fusion allows viruses to infect neighboring cells without the need to produce free virus and contributes to tissue damage by creating virus-infected syncytia. Our results demonstrate that the S2' cleavage site is essential for activation by TMPRSS2 and unravel important differences between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, among those, greater dependence of SARS-CoV-2 on ACE2 expression and activation by metalloproteases for cell-cell fusion. Bromhexine, reportedly an inhibitor of TMPRSS2, is currently being tested in clinical trials against coronavirus disease 2019. Our results indicate that bromhexine enhances fusion under some conditions. We therefore caution against the use of bromhexine in high dosages until its effects on SARS-CoV-2 spike activation are better understood. The related compound ambroxol, which similarly to bromhexine is clinically used as an expectorant, did not exhibit activating effects on cell-cell fusion. Both compounds exhibited weak inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection at high concentrations, which might be clinically attainable for ambroxol.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/metabolism , SARS Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization , Ambroxol/pharmacology , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Bromhexine/pharmacology , COVID-19/genetics , Cell Line , Humans , Mutation, Missense , Proteolysis/drug effects , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
14.
Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol ; 320(3): L430-L435, 2021 03 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1024271

ABSTRACT

The tropism of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a virus responsible for the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, toward the host cells is determined, at least in part, by the expression and distribution of its cell surface receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The virus further exploits the host cellular machinery to gain access into the cells; its spike protein is cleaved by a host cell surface transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) shortly after binding ACE2, followed by its proteolytic activation at a furin cleavage site. The virus primarily targets the epithelium of the respiratory tract, which is covered by a tightly regulated airway surface liquid (ASL) layer that serves as a primary defense mechanism against respiratory pathogens. The volume and viscosity of this fluid layer is regulated and maintained by a coordinated function of different transport pathways in the respiratory epithelium. We argue that SARS-CoV-2 may potentially alter evolutionary conserved second-messenger signaling cascades via activation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) or by directly modulating G protein signaling. Such signaling may in turn adversely modulate transepithelial transport processes, especially those involving cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC), thereby shifting the delicate balance between anion secretion and sodium absorption, which controls homeostasis of this fluid layer. As a result, activation of the secretory pathways including CFTR-mediated Cl- transport may overwhelm the absorptive pathways, such as ENaC-dependent Na+ uptake, and initiate a pathophysiological cascade leading to lung edema, one of the most serious and potentially deadly clinical manifestations of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Lung/physiopathology , Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Biological Transport , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Humans , Lung/virology , Signal Transduction
15.
Nutrients ; 13(1)2020 Dec 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1016213

ABSTRACT

Inflammasomes are intracellular protein complexes that form in response to a variety of stress signals and that serve to catalyze the proteolytic conversion of pro-interleukin-1ß and pro-interleukin-18 to active interleukin-1ß and interleukin-18, central mediators of the inflammatory response; inflammasomes can also promote a type of cell death known as pyroptosis. The NLRP3 inflammasome has received the most study and plays an important pathogenic role in a vast range of pathologies associated with inflammation-including atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, the complications of diabetes, neurological and autoimmune disorders, dry macular degeneration, gout, and the cytokine storm phase of COVID-19. A consideration of the molecular biology underlying inflammasome priming and activation enables the prediction that a range of nutraceuticals may have clinical potential for suppressing inflammasome activity-antioxidants including phycocyanobilin, phase 2 inducers, melatonin, and N-acetylcysteine, the AMPK activator berberine, glucosamine, zinc, and various nutraceuticals that support generation of hydrogen sulfide. Complex nutraceuticals or functional foods featuring a number of these agents may find utility in the prevention and control of a wide range of medical disorders.


Subject(s)
Antioxidants/therapeutic use , COVID-19 , Dietary Supplements , Inflammasomes/metabolism , NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/diet therapy , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Humans
16.
Microorganisms ; 9(1)2021 Jan 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1011585

ABSTRACT

The expression rate of SARS-CoV-2 entry genes, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the main viral receptor and the proteases, furin and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) in cystic fibrosis (CF) individuals is poorly known. Hence, we examined their levels in upper respiratory samples of CF patients (n = 46) and healthy controls (n = 45). Moreover, we sought to understand the interplay of type I interferon (IFN-I) with ACE2, furin and TMPRSS2 by evaluating their gene expression with respect to ISG15, a well-known marker of IFN activation, in upper respiratory samples and after ex vivo IFNß exposure. Lower ACE2 levels and trends toward the reduction of furin and TMPRSS2 were found in CF patients compared with the healthy controls; decreased ACE2 amounts were also detected in CF individuals with pancreatic insufficiency and in those receiving inhaled antibiotics. Moreover, there was a strong positive correlation between ISG15 and ACE2 levels. However, after ex vivo IFNß stimulation of nasopharyngeal cells, the truncated isoform (dACE2), recently demonstrated as the IFN stimulated one with respect to the full-length isoform (flACE2), slightly augmented in cells from CF patients whereas in those from healthy donors, dACE2 levels showed variable levels of upregulation. An altered expression of SARS-COV-2 entry genes and a poor responsiveness of dACE2 to IFN-I stimulation might be crucial in the diffusion of SARS-CoV-2 infection in CF.

17.
Comput Struct Biotechnol J ; 19: 467-476, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-987424

ABSTRACT

Effective treatment or vaccine is not yet available for combating SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent studies showed that two drugs, Camostat and Nafamostat, might be repurposed to treat COVID-19 by inhibiting human TMPRSS2 required for proteolytic activation of viral spike (S) glycoprotein. However, their molecular mechanisms of pharmacological action remain unclear. Here, we perform molecular dynamics simulations to investigate their native binding sites on TMPRSS2. We revealed that both drugs could spontaneously and stably bind to the TMPRSS2 catalytic center, and thereby inhibit its proteolytic processing of the S protein. Also, we found that Nafamostat is more specific than Camostat for binding to the catalytic center, consistent with reported observation that Nafamostat blocks the SARS-CoV-2 infection at a lower concentration. Thus, this study provides mechanistic insights into the Camostat and Nafamostat inhibition of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, and offers useful information for COVID-19 drug development.

18.
PLoS Pathog ; 16(12): e1009128, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-992722

ABSTRACT

Cytokine storm is suggested as one of the major pathological characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 infection, although the mechanism for initiation of a hyper-inflammatory response, and multi-organ damage from viral infection is poorly understood. In this virus-cell interaction study, we observed that SARS-CoV-2 infection or viral spike protein expression alone inhibited angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptor protein expression. The spike protein promoted an angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1) mediated signaling cascade, induced the transcriptional regulatory molecules NF-κB and AP-1/c-Fos via MAPK activation, and increased IL-6 release. SARS-CoV-2 infected patient sera contained elevated levels of IL-6 and soluble IL-6R. Up-regulated AT1 receptor signaling also influenced the release of extracellular soluble IL-6R by the induction of the ADAM-17 protease. Use of the AT1 receptor antagonist, Candesartan cilexetil, resulted in down-regulation of IL-6/soluble IL-6R release in spike expressing cells. Phosphorylation of STAT3 at the Tyr705 residue plays an important role as a transcriptional inducer for SOCS3 and MCP-1 expression. Further study indicated that inhibition of STAT3 Tyr705 phosphorylation in SARS-CoV-2 infected and viral spike protein expressing epithelial cells did not induce SOCS3 and MCP-1 expression. Introduction of culture supernatant from SARS-CoV-2 spike expressing cells on a model human liver endothelial Cell line (TMNK-1), where transmembrane IL-6R is poorly expressed, resulted in the induction of STAT3 Tyr705 phosphorylation as well as MCP-1 expression. In conclusion, our results indicated that the presence of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in epithelial cells promotes IL-6 trans-signaling by activation of the AT1 axis to initiate coordination of a hyper-inflammatory response.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Interleukin-6/immunology , Receptors, Angiotensin/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , COVID-19/metabolism , Cytokine Release Syndrome/immunology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/metabolism , Cytokine Release Syndrome/virology , Epithelial Cells/immunology , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Epithelial Cells/virology , Humans , Interleukin-6/metabolism , Respiratory Mucosa/immunology , Respiratory Mucosa/metabolism , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Signal Transduction/physiology , Transcriptional Activation
19.
PLoS Comput Biol ; 16(12): e1008461, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-992642

ABSTRACT

The entry of SARS-CoV-2 into target cells requires the activation of its surface spike protein, S, by host proteases. The host serine protease TMPRSS2 and cysteine proteases Cathepsin B/L can activate S, making two independent entry pathways accessible to SARS-CoV-2. Blocking the proteases prevents SARS-CoV-2 entry in vitro. This blockade may be achieved in vivo through 'repurposing' drugs, a potential treatment option for COVID-19 that is now in clinical trials. Here, we found, surprisingly, that drugs targeting the two pathways, although independent, could display strong synergy in blocking virus entry. We predicted this synergy first using a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 entry and dynamics in vitro. The model considered the two pathways explicitly, let the entry efficiency through a pathway depend on the corresponding protease expression level, which varied across cells, and let inhibitors compromise the efficiency in a dose-dependent manner. The synergy predicted was novel and arose from effects of the drugs at both the single cell and the cell population levels. Validating our predictions, available in vitro data on SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV entry displayed this synergy. Further, analysing the data using our model, we estimated the relative usage of the two pathways and found it to vary widely across cell lines, suggesting that targeting both pathways in vivo may be important and synergistic given the broad tissue tropism of SARS-CoV-2. Our findings provide insights into SARS-CoV-2 entry into target cells and may help improve the deployability of drug combinations targeting host proteases required for the entry.


Subject(s)
Cathepsin B/chemistry , Cathepsin L/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Serine Endopeptidases/chemistry , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , Chlorocebus aethiops , Drug Repositioning , Humans , Models, Theoretical , Protein Binding , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vero Cells , Virion
20.
Phytomedicine ; 85: 153390, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-912536

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Shufeng Jiedu capsules (SFJDC), a patented herbal drug composed of eight medicinal plants, is used for the treatment of different viral respiratory tract infectious diseases. Based on its antiviral, anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory activity in acute lung injury, SFJDC might be a promising candidate for the treatment of COVID-19. PURPOSE: To evaluate the antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and to discover the mechanism of action of SFJDC as a potential drug for the treatment of COVID-19. Furthermore, the study should determine the clinical effectiveness of SFJDC for the treatment of COVID-19. DESIGN: We analyzed the antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects of SFJDC in a HCoV-229E mouse model on lung index, virus load in the lung, the release of cytokines, and on T- and B-lymphocytes. The mechanism of action was further investigated by network analysis. Additionally, we investigated data from a clinical pragmatic real-world study for patients with confirmed COVID-19, to evaluate the clinical effect of SFJDC and to determine the best time to start the treatment. RESULTS: SFJDC significantly reduced the virus load in the lung of HCoV-229E mice (from 1109.29 ± 696.75 to 0 ± 0 copies/ml), decreased inflammatory factors IL-6, IL-10, TNF-α, and IFN-γ in the lung, and increased the amount of CD4+ and CD8+ cells in the blood compared to the model group. Network analysis revealed that SFJDC reduces the activity of NFκB via several signaling pathways. Quercetin, wogonin, and polydatin bind directly to the main protease (Mpro) of SARS-CoV-2. Clinical data showed that SFJDC, added to standard antiviral therapy (AVD), significantly reduced the clinical recovery time of COVID-19 and fatigue (from 3.55 ± 4.09 to 1.19 ± 2.28 days) as well as cough (from 5.67 ± 5.64 to 3.47 ± 3.75) days compared to AVD alone. SFJDC therapy was significantly more effective when used within the first 8 days after the onset of symptoms. CONCLUSION: SFJDC might be a promising drug for the treatment of COVID-19, but large-scale randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trials are needed to complement the real-world evidence. It might be beneficial to start SFJDC treatment as early as possible in suspected cases of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Drugs, Chinese Herbal/therapeutic use , Adult , Animals , Anti-Inflammatory Agents , Coronavirus 229E, Human/drug effects , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Drug Combinations , Female , Humans , Indoles/therapeutic use , Lopinavir/therapeutic use , Lung/virology , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Middle Aged , Molecular Docking Simulation , NF-kappa B , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Signal Transduction , Viral Load
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