Lysosomal Proteases Are a Determinant of Coronavirus Tropism
JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY
Authors: Zheng, Yuan; Shang, Jian; Yang, Yang; Liu, Chang; Wan, Yushun; Geng, Qibin; Wang, Michelle; Baric, Ralph; Li, Fang
Cell entry by coronaviruses involves two principal steps, receptor binding and membrane fusion; the latter requires activation by host proteases, particularly lysosomal proteases. Despite the importance of lysosomal proteases in both coronavirus entry and cell metabolism, the correlation between lysosomal proteases and cell tropism of coronaviruses has not been established. Here, we examined the roles of lysosomal proteases in activating coronavirus surface spike proteins for membrane fusion, using the spike proteins from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) as the model system. To this end, we controlled the contributions from receptor binding and other host proteases, thereby attributing coronavirus entry solely or mainly to the efficiency of lysosomal proteases in activating coronavirus spike-mediated membrane fusion. Our results showed that lysosomal proteases from bat cells support coronavirus spike-mediated pseudovirus entry and cell-cell fusion more effectively than their counterparts from human cells. Moreover, purified lysosomal extracts from bat cells cleave cell surface-expressed coronavirus spikes more efficiently than their counterparts from human cells. Overall, our study suggests that different lysosomal protease activities from different host species and tissue cells are an important determinant of the species and tissue tropism of coronaviruses. IMPORTANCE Coronaviruses are capable of colonizing new species, as evidenced by the recent emergence of SARS and MERS coronaviruses; they can also infect multiple tissues in the same species. Lysosomal proteases play critical roles in coronavirus entry by cleaving coronavirus surface spike proteins and activating the fusion of host and viral membranes; they also play critical roles in cell physiology by processing cellular products. How do different lysosomal protease activities from different cells impact coronavirus entry? Here, we controlled the contributions from known factors that function in coronavirus entry so that lysosomal protease activities became the only or the main determinant of coronavirus entry. Using pseudovirus entry, cell-cell fusion, and biochemical assays, we showed that lysosomal proteases from bat cells activate coronavirus spike-mediated membrane fusion more efficiently than their counterparts from human cells. Our study provides the first direct evidence supporting lysosomal proteases as a determinant of the species and tissue tropisms of coronaviruses.
The epigenetic implication in coronavirus infection and therapy
Authors: Atlante, Sandra; Mongelli, Alessia; Barbi, Veronica; Martelli, Fabio; Farsetti, Antonella; Gaetano, Carlo
Epigenetics is a relatively new field of science that studies the genetic and non-genetic aspects related to heritable phenotypic changes, frequently caused by environmental and metabolic factors. In the host, the epigenetic machinery can regulate gene expression through a series of reversible epigenetic modifications, such as histone methylation and acetylation, DNA/RNA methylation, chromatin remodeling, and non-coding RNAs. The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is a highly transmittable and pathogenic viral infection. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which emerged in Wuhan, China, and spread worldwide, causes it. COVID-19 severity and consequences largely depend on patient age and health status. In this review, we will summarize and comparatively analyze how viruses regulate the host epigenome. Mainly, we will be focusing on highly pathogenic respiratory RNA virus infections such as coronaviruses. In this context, epigenetic alterations might play an essential role in the onset of coronavirus disease complications. Although many therapeutic approaches are under study, more research is urgently needed to identify effective vaccine or safer chemotherapeutic drugs, including epigenetic drugs, to cope with this viral outbreak and to develop pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis against COVID-19.