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      Coronavirus membrane fusion mechanism offers a potential target for antiviral development

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          Abstract

          The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has focused attention on the need to develop effective therapies against the causative agent, SARS-CoV-2, and also against other pathogenic coronaviruses (CoV) that have emerged in the past or might appear in future. Researchers are therefore focusing on steps in the CoV replication cycle that may be vulnerable to inhibition by broad-spectrum or specific antiviral agents. The conserved nature of the fusion domain and mechanism across the CoV family make it a valuable target to elucidate and develop pan-CoV therapeutics. In this article, we review the role of the CoV spike protein in mediating fusion of the viral and host cell membranes, summarizing the results of research on SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and recent peer-reviewed studies of SARS-CoV-2, and suggest that the fusion mechanism be investigated as a potential antiviral target. We also provide a supplemental file containing background information on the biology, epidemiology, and clinical features of all human-infecting coronaviruses, along with a phylogenetic tree of these coronaviruses.

          Highlights

          • SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 entry (receptor binding and membrane fusion) is governed by the viral spike (S) protein.

          • A predicted furin cleavage in SARS-CoV-2 differentiates it from SARS-CoV, and may affect its entry and transmissibility.

          • The proposed SARS-CoV-2 FP using a pairwise sequence alignment with SARS-CoV shows 93% sequence homology.

          • S protein can be activated for early plasma membrane or late endosomal membrane entry depending on protease availability.

          • The fusion peptide is well conserved across the CoV family, making it a good target for pan coronavirus antivirals.

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          Most cited references77

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          A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin

          Since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 18 years ago, a large number of SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) have been discovered in their natural reservoir host, bats 1–4 . Previous studies have shown that some bat SARSr-CoVs have the potential to infect humans 5–7 . Here we report the identification and characterization of a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which caused an epidemic of acute respiratory syndrome in humans in Wuhan, China. The epidemic, which started on 12 December 2019, had caused 2,794 laboratory-confirmed infections including 80 deaths by 26 January 2020. Full-length genome sequences were obtained from five patients at an early stage of the outbreak. The sequences are almost identical and share 79.6% sequence identity to SARS-CoV. Furthermore, we show that 2019-nCoV is 96% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus. Pairwise protein sequence analysis of seven conserved non-structural proteins domains show that this virus belongs to the species of SARSr-CoV. In addition, 2019-nCoV virus isolated from the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of a critically ill patient could be neutralized by sera from several patients. Notably, we confirmed that 2019-nCoV uses the same cell entry receptor—angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2)—as SARS-CoV.
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            Cryo-EM structure of the 2019-nCoV spike in the prefusion conformation

            Structure of the nCoV trimeric spike The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to be a public health emergency of international concern. The virus binds to host cells through its trimeric spike glycoprotein, making this protein a key target for potential therapies and diagnostics. Wrapp et al. determined a 3.5-angstrom-resolution structure of the 2019-nCoV trimeric spike protein by cryo–electron microscopy. Using biophysical assays, the authors show that this protein binds at least 10 times more tightly than the corresponding spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)–CoV to their common host cell receptor. They also tested three antibodies known to bind to the SARS-CoV spike protein but did not detect binding to the 2019-nCoV spike protein. These studies provide valuable information to guide the development of medical counter-measures for 2019-nCoV. Science, this issue p. 1260
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              Structural basis for the recognition of SARS-CoV-2 by full-length human ACE2

              How SARS-CoV-2 binds to human cells Scientists are racing to learn the secrets of severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the cause of the pandemic disease COVID-19. The first step in viral entry is the binding of the viral trimeric spike protein to the human receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Yan et al. present the structure of human ACE2 in complex with a membrane protein that it chaperones, B0AT1. In the context of this complex, ACE2 is a dimer. A further structure shows how the receptor binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 interacts with ACE2 and suggests that it is possible that two trimeric spike proteins bind to an ACE2 dimer. The structures provide a basis for the development of therapeutics targeting this crucial interaction. Science, this issue p. 1444
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Antiviral Res
                Antiviral Res
                Antiviral Research
                Elsevier B.V.
                0166-3542
                1872-9096
                6 April 2020
                June 2020
                6 April 2020
                : 178
                : 104792
                Affiliations
                [a ]Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA
                [b ]Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author. sd386@ 123456cornell.edu
                Article
                S0166-3542(20)30206-0 104792
                10.1016/j.antiviral.2020.104792
                7194977
                32272173
                155a604b-86ad-4b2c-b8c8-7a79562e453d
                © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                Categories
                Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                middle east respiratory syndrome,severe acute respiratory syndrome,sars-cov-2,covid-19,spike protein,fusion peptide

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