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      Characterization of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of 2019 novel coronavirus: implication for development of RBD protein as a viral attachment inhibitor and vaccine

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          The outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has posed a serious threat to global public health, calling for the development of safe and effective prophylactics and therapeutics against infection of its causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The CoV spike (S) protein plays the most important roles in viral attachment, fusion and entry, and serves as a target for development of antibodies, entry inhibitors and vaccines. Here, we identified the receptor-binding domain (RBD) in SARS-CoV-2 S protein and found that the RBD protein bound strongly to human and bat angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors. SARS-CoV-2 RBD exhibited significantly higher binding affinity to ACE2 receptor than SARS-CoV RBD and could block the binding and, hence, attachment of SARS-CoV-2 RBD and SARS-CoV RBD to ACE2-expressing cells, thus inhibiting their infection to host cells. SARS-CoV RBD-specific antibodies could cross-react with SARS-CoV-2 RBD protein, and SARS-CoV RBD-induced antisera could cross-neutralize SARS-CoV-2, suggesting the potential to develop SARS-CoV RBD-based vaccines for prevention of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection.

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          MERS-CoV spike protein: a key target for antivirals.

          The continual Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) threat highlights the importance of developing effective antiviral therapeutics to prevent and treat MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. A surface spike (S) protein guides MERS-CoV entry into host cells by binding to cellular receptor dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4), followed by fusion between virus and host cell membranes. MERS-CoV S protein represents a key target for developing therapeutics to block viral entry and inhibit membrane fusion. Areas covered: This review illustrates MERS-CoV S protein's structure and function, particularly S1 receptor-binding domain (RBD) and S2 heptad repeat 1 (HR1) as therapeutic targets, and summarizes current advancement on developing anti-MERS-CoV therapeutics, focusing on neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and antiviral peptides. Expert opinion: No anti-MERS-CoV therapeutic is approved for human use. Several S-targeting neutralizing mAbs and peptides have demonstrated efficacy against MERS-CoV infection, providing feasibility for development. Generally, human neutralizing mAbs targeting RBD are more potent than those targeting other regions of S protein. However, emergence of escape mutant viruses and mAb's limitations make it necessary for combining neutralizing mAbs recognizing different neutralizing epitopes and engineering them with improved efficacy and reduced cost. Optimization of the peptide sequences is expected to produce next-generation anti-MERS-CoV peptides with improved potency.
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            Identification of a receptor-binding domain in the S protein of the novel human coronavirus Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus as an essential target for vaccine development.

            A novel human Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) caused outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like illness with a high mortality rate, raising concerns of its pandemic potential. Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) was recently identified as its receptor. Here we showed that residues 377 to 662 in the S protein of MERS-CoV specifically bound to DPP4-expressing cells and soluble DPP4 protein and induced significant neutralizing antibody responses, suggesting that this region contains the receptor-binding domain (RBD), which has a potential to be developed as a MERS-CoV vaccine.
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              A conformation-dependent neutralizing monoclonal antibody specifically targeting receptor-binding domain in Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike protein.

              Prophylactic and therapeutic strategies are urgently needed to combat infections caused by the newly emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Here, we have developed a neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb), designated Mersmab1, which potently blocks MERS-CoV entry into human cells. Biochemical assays reveal that Mersmab1 specifically binds to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the MERS-CoV spike protein and thereby competitively blocks the binding of the RBD to its cellular receptor, dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4). Furthermore, alanine scanning of the RBD has identified several residues at the DPP4-binding surface that serve as neutralizing epitopes for Mersmab1. These results suggest that if humanized, Mersmab1 could potentially function as a therapeutic antibody for treating and preventing MERS-CoV infections. Additionally, Mersmab1 may facilitate studies of the conformation and antigenicity of MERS-CoV RBD and thus will guide rational design of MERS-CoV subunit vaccines.

                Author and article information

                Cell Mol Immunol
                Cell. Mol. Immunol
                Cellular and Molecular Immunology
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                19 March 2020
                19 March 2020
                : 1-8
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0442 2075, GRID grid.250415.7, Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, , New York Blood Center, ; New York, NY USA
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0000 8803 2373, GRID grid.198530.6, Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, ; Beijing, China
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0125 2443, GRID grid.8547.e, Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Virology (MOE/NHC/CAMS), , School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fudan University, ; Shanghai, China
                © CSI and USTC 2020

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Funded by: FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/100000002, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services | National Institutes of Health (NIH);
                Award ID: R01AI137472
                Award ID: R01AI139092
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services | National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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