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Arthropod Ectoparasites Have Potential to Bind SARS-CoV-2 via ACE

Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, UCL, Darwin Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Department of Applied Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi 43600, Selangor, Malaysia
SaBio, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC-CSIC-UCLM-JCCM, Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
Regional Centre for Biomedical Research (CRIB), Biochemistry Section, Faculty of Science and Chemical Technologies, University of Castilla-La Mancha, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain
Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Luis Martinez-Sobrido
Viruses 2021, 13(4), 708;
Received: 2 April 2021 / Revised: 16 April 2021 / Accepted: 16 April 2021 / Published: 19 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19)
Coronavirus-like organisms have been previously identified in Arthropod ectoparasites (such as ticks and unfed cat flea). Yet, the question regarding the possible role of these arthropods as SARS-CoV-2 passive/biological transmission vectors is still poorly explored. In this study, we performed in silico structural and binding energy calculations to assess the risks associated with possible ectoparasite transmission. We found sufficient similarity between ectoparasite ACE and human ACE2 protein sequences to build good quality 3D-models of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike:ACE complex to assess the impacts of ectoparasite mutations on complex stability. For several species (e.g., water flea, deer tick, body louse), our analyses showed no significant destabilisation of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike:ACE complex, suggesting these species would bind the viral Spike protein. Our structural analyses also provide structural rationale for interactions between the viral Spike and the ectoparasite ACE proteins. Although we do not have experimental evidence of infection in these ectoparasites, the predicted stability of the complex suggests this is possible, raising concerns of a possible role in passive transmission of the virus to their human hosts. View Full-Text
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; spike protein; ACE2; structural bioinformatics; parasite SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; spike protein; ACE2; structural bioinformatics; parasite
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lam, S.D.; Ashford, P.; Díaz-Sánchez, S.; Villar, M.; Gortázar, C.; de la Fuente, J.; Orengo, C. Arthropod Ectoparasites Have Potential to Bind SARS-CoV-2 via ACE. Viruses 2021, 13, 708.

AMA Style

Lam SD, Ashford P, Díaz-Sánchez S, Villar M, Gortázar C, de la Fuente J, Orengo C. Arthropod Ectoparasites Have Potential to Bind SARS-CoV-2 via ACE. Viruses. 2021; 13(4):708.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lam, Su Datt, Paul Ashford, Sandra Díaz-Sánchez, Margarita Villar, Christian Gortázar, José de la Fuente, and Christine Orengo. 2021. "Arthropod Ectoparasites Have Potential to Bind SARS-CoV-2 via ACE" Viruses 13, no. 4: 708.

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