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Structural and functional modelling of SARS-CoV-2 entry in animal models

Brooke, Greg N and Prischi, Filippo (2020) 'Structural and functional modelling of SARS-CoV-2 entry in animal models.' Scientific Reports, 10 (1). 15917-. ISSN 2045-2322

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SARS-CoV-2 is the novel coronavirus responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease that has spread to over 100 countries and, as of the 26th July 2020, has infected over 16 million people. Despite the urgent need to find effective therapeutics, research on SARS-CoV-2 has been affected by a lack of suitable animal models. To facilitate the development of medical approaches and novel treatments, we compared the ACE2 receptor, and TMPRSS2 and Furin proteases usage of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein in human and in a panel of animal models, i.e. guinea pig, dog, cat, rat, rabbit, ferret, mouse, hamster and macaque. Here we showed that ACE2, but not TMPRSS2 or Furin, has a higher level of sequence variability in the Spike protein interaction surface, which greatly influences Spike protein binding mode. Using molecular docking simulations we compared the SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in complex with the ACE2 receptor and showed that the SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein is compatible to bind the human ACE2 with high specificity. In contrast, TMPRSS2 and Furin are sufficiently similar in the considered hosts not to drive susceptibility differences. Computational analysis of binding modes and protein contacts indicates that macaque, ferrets and hamster are the most suitable models for the study of inhibitory antibodies and small molecules targeting the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein interaction with ACE2. Since TMPRSS2 and Furin are similar across species, our data also suggest that transgenic animal models expressing human ACE2, such as the hACE2 transgenic mouse, are also likely to be useful models for studies investigating viral entry.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animals; Dogs; Cats; Ferrets; Rabbits; Macaca fascicularis; Humans; Guinea Pigs; Mice; Rats; Pneumonia, Viral; Coronavirus Infections; Disease Models, Animal; Serine Endopeptidases; Furin; Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A; Computational Biology; Amino Acid Sequence; Cricetinae; Pandemics; Molecular Docking Simulation; Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus; Betacoronavirus; COVID-19; Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2; SARS-CoV-2
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2020 09:54
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:18

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