Topical Collection "Coronaviruses"

A topical collection in Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915). This collection belongs to the section "Coronaviruses".

Editors

Prof. Dr. Luis Martinez-Sobrido
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 78245, USA
Interests: virology; vaccines; antivirals; influenza viruses; arenaviruses; Zika virus; coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; innate immunity; adaptive immunity; interferon; virus-host interactions
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Fernando Almazan Toral
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, National Center for Biotechnology, Darwin 3, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Interests: virology; virus-host interaction; coronavirus; vaccines; antivirals; flavivirus; Zika virus
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human coronaviruses (HCoVs), including NL63, 229E, OC43, and HKU1, are enveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA viruses responsible for seasonal mild and moderate respiratory illness (229E and OC43) and, in some cases, bronchiolitis and pneumonia (NL63 and HKU1). However, two HCoVs (SARS and MERS) have been shown to cause severe morbidity and mortality in humans. Recently (December 2019), a novel HCoV, severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified in the city of Wuhan in China, and has been responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, with an alarming case fatality rate, posing an unprecedented threat to human health and the economy. To date, three vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use. However, efforts to develop effective countermeasures to deal with SARS-CoV-2 and other HCoV infections are an urgent need.

In this Topical Collection about HCoVs, we aim to cover all the aspects related to coronavirus disease not related to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or COVID-19, including virus–host interactions, viral infection, transmission, pathogenesis, animal models, antivirals, vaccine development, neutralizing antibodies, immunity, innate and adaptive immune responses, prophylactics, therapeutics, and reverse genetics.

We hope that the collection of research articles in this Topical Collection will provide researchers with a better understanding of HCoV infections, with the final goal of using this information for the development of prophylactic and/or therapeutic approaches to controlling these important human respiratory pathogens.

Prof. Luis Martinez-Sobrido
Dr. Fernando Almazan Toral
Collection Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • coronavirus
  • HCoV-OC43
  • HCoV-229E
  • HCoV-NL63
  • HCoV-HKU1
  • SARS-CoV
  • MERS-CoV
  • reverse genetics
  • immunity
  • innate immunity
  • adaptive immunity
  • virus-host interactions
  • antivirals/therapeutics
  • vaccines/prophylactics
  • inactivated vaccines
  • live-attenuated vaccines
  • reporter viruses
  • animal models

Related Special Issues

Published Papers (34 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020

Review
Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines and Monoclonal Antibodies Facing Viral Variants
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1171; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061171 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 153
Abstract
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is genetically variable, allowing it to adapt to various hosts including humans. Indeed, SARS-CoV-2 has accumulated around two mutations per genome each month. The first relevant event in this context was the occurrence of the [...] Read more.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is genetically variable, allowing it to adapt to various hosts including humans. Indeed, SARS-CoV-2 has accumulated around two mutations per genome each month. The first relevant event in this context was the occurrence of the mutant D614G in the Spike gene. Moreover, several variants have emerged, including the well-characterized 20I/501Y.V1, 20H/501Y.V2, and 20J/501Y.V3 strains, in addition to those that have been detected within clusters, such as 19B/501Y or 20C/655Y in France. Mutants have also emerged in animals, including a variant transmitted to humans, namely, the Mink variant detected in Denmark. The emergence of these variants has affected the transmissibility of the virus (for example, 20I/501Y.V1, which was up to 82% more transmissible than other preexisting variants), its severity, and its ability to escape natural, adaptive, vaccine, and therapeutic immunity. In this respect, we review the literature on variants that have currently emerged, and their effect on vaccines and therapies, and, in particular, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants must be examined to allow effective preventive and curative control strategies to be developed. Full article
Article
Evaluation of Production Lots of a Rapid Point-of-Care Lateral Flow Serological Test Intended for Identification of IgM and IgG against the N-Terminal Part of the Spike Protein (S1) of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1043; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061043 - 31 May 2021
Viewed by 564
Abstract
The potential of rapid point-of-care (POC) tests has been subject of doubt due to an eventual risk of production errors. The aim was therefore to evaluate the two separate production lots of a commercial POC lateral flow test, intended for the detection of [...] Read more.
The potential of rapid point-of-care (POC) tests has been subject of doubt due to an eventual risk of production errors. The aim was therefore to evaluate the two separate production lots of a commercial POC lateral flow test, intended for the detection of IgM and IgG against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (S1). Control samples consisted of serum from individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and pre-COVID-19 negative sera gathered from a biobank. The presence of anti-S1 IgM/IgG in the sera was verified by an in-house Luminex-based serological assay (COVID-19 SIA). One hundred samples were verified as positive for anti-S1 IgG and 74 for anti-S1 IgM. Two hundred samples were verified as negative for anti-S1 IgM/IgG. For the two lots of the POC-test, the sensitivities were 93.2% and 87.8% for IgM and 93.0% and 100% for IgG. The specificities were 100% for IgM and 99.5% for IgG. The positive predictive value was 100% for IgM and 98.9% and 99.0% for IgG. The negative predictive value was 97.6% and 95.7% for IgM, and 96.6% and 100% for IgG. The evaluated POC-test is suitable to assess anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1 IgM and IgG, as a measure of previous virus exposure on an individual level. The external validation of separate lots of rapid POC-tests is encouraged to ensure high sensitivity before market introduction. Full article
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Article
GABAA-Receptor Agonists Limit Pneumonitis and Death in Murine Coronavirus-Infected Mice
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 966; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13060966 - 23 May 2021
Viewed by 502
Abstract
There is an urgent need for new approaches to limit the severity of coronavirus infections. Many cells of the immune system express receptors for the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and GABA-receptor (GABA-R) agonists have anti-inflammatory effects. Lung epithelial cells also express GABA-Rs, and [...] Read more.
There is an urgent need for new approaches to limit the severity of coronavirus infections. Many cells of the immune system express receptors for the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and GABA-receptor (GABA-R) agonists have anti-inflammatory effects. Lung epithelial cells also express GABA-Rs, and GABA-R modulators have been shown to limit acute lung injuries. There is currently, however, no information on whether GABA-R agonists might impact the course of a viral infection. Here, we assessed whether clinically applicable GABA-R agonists could be repurposed for the treatment of a lethal coronavirus (murine hepatitis virus 1, MHV-1) infection in mice. We found that oral GABA administration before, or after the appearance of symptoms, very effectively limited MHV-1-induced pneumonitis, severe illness, and death. GABA treatment also reduced viral load in the lungs, suggesting that GABA-Rs may provide a new druggable target to limit coronavirus replication. Treatment with the GABAA-R-specific agonist homotaurine, but not the GABAB-R-specific agonist baclofen, significantly reduced the severity of pneumonitis and death rates in MHV-1-infected mice, indicating that the therapeutic effects were mediated primarily through GABAA-Rs. Since GABA and homotaurine are safe for human consumption, they are promising candidates to help treat coronavirus infections. Full article
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Article
Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Reinfection in a Healthy Healthcare Worker in Italy Confirmed by Whole-Genome Sequencing
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 899; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13050899 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 451
Abstract
This study describes a case of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection confirmed by whole-genome sequencing in a healthy physician who had been working in a COVID-19 hospital in Italy since the beginning of the pandemic. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from the patient at each presentation as [...] Read more.
This study describes a case of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection confirmed by whole-genome sequencing in a healthy physician who had been working in a COVID-19 hospital in Italy since the beginning of the pandemic. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from the patient at each presentation as part of routine surveillance. Nucleic acid amplification testing was performed on the two samples to confirm SARS-CoV-2 infection, and serological tests were used to detect SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. Comparative genome analysis with whole-genome sequencing was performed on nasopharyngeal swabs collected during the two episodes of COVID-19. The first COVID-19 episode was in March 2020, and the second was in January 2021. Both SARS-CoV-2 infections presented with mild symptoms, and seroconversion for SARS-CoV-2 IgG was documented. Genomic analysis showed that the viral genome from the first infection belonged to the lineage B.1.1.74, while that from the second infection to the lineage B.1.177. Epidemiological, clinical, serological, and genomic analyses confirmed that the second episode of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the healthcare worker met the qualifications for “best evidence” for reinfection. Further studies are urgently needed to assess the frequency of such a worrisome occurrence, particularly in the light of the recent diffusion of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Full article
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Article
Influence of SARS-CoV-2 Variant B.1.1.7, Vaccination, and Public Health Measures on the Spread of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 898; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13050898 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 411
Abstract
The spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting disease COVID-19 has killed over 2.6 million people as of 18 March 2021. We have used a modified susceptible, infected, recovered (SIR) epidemiological model to predict how the spread of the virus in regions of France [...] Read more.
The spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting disease COVID-19 has killed over 2.6 million people as of 18 March 2021. We have used a modified susceptible, infected, recovered (SIR) epidemiological model to predict how the spread of the virus in regions of France will vary depending on the proportions of variants and on the public health strategies adopted, including anti-COVID-19 vaccination. The proportion of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7, which was not detected in early January, increased to become 60% of the forms of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the Toulouse urban area at the beginning of February 2021, but there was no increase in positive nucleic acid tests. Our prediction model indicates that maintaining public health measures and accelerating vaccination are efficient strategies for the sustained control of SARS-CoV-2. Full article
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Article
Prognostic Values of Serum Ferritin and D-Dimer Trajectory in Patients with COVID-19
Viruses 2021, 13(3), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13030419 - 05 Mar 2021
Viewed by 761
Abstract
Cytokine storm syndrome in patients with COVID-19 is mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines resulting in acute lung injury and multiorgan failure. Elevation in serum ferritin and D-dimer is observed in COVID-19 patients. To determine prognostic values of optimal serum cutoff with trajectory plots for [...] Read more.
Cytokine storm syndrome in patients with COVID-19 is mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines resulting in acute lung injury and multiorgan failure. Elevation in serum ferritin and D-dimer is observed in COVID-19 patients. To determine prognostic values of optimal serum cutoff with trajectory plots for both serum ferritin and D-dimer in COVID-19 patients with invasive ventilator dependence and in-hospital mortality. We used retrospective longitudinal data from the Cerner COVID-19 de-identified cohort. COVID-19 infected patients with valid repeated values of serum ferritin and D-dimer during hospitalization were used in mixed-effects logistic-regression models. Among 52,411 patients, 28.5% (14,958) had valid serum ferritin and 28.6% (15,005) D-dimer laboratory results. Optimal cutoffs of ferritin (714 ng/mL) and D-dimer (2.1 mg/L) revealed AUCs ≥ 0.99 for in-hospital mortality. Optimal cutoffs for ferritin (502 ng/mL) and D-dimer (2.0 mg/L) revealed AUCs ≥ 0.99 for invasive ventilator dependence. Optimal cutoffs for in-house mortality, among females, were lower in serum ferritin (433 ng/mL) and D-dimer (1.9 mg/L) compared to males (740 ng/mL and 2.5 mg/L, respectively). Optimal cutoffs for invasive ventilator dependence, among females, were lower in ferritin (270 ng/mL) and D-dimer (1.3 mg/L) compared to males (860 ng/mL and 2.3 mg/L, respectively). Optimal prognostic cutoffs for serum ferritin and D-dimer require considering the entire trajectory of laboratory values during the disease course. Females have an overall lower optimal cutoff for both serum ferritin and D-dimer. The presented research allows health professionals to predict clinical outcomes and appropriate allocation of resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially early recognition of COVID-19 patients needing higher levels of care. Full article
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Article
Comparative Transcriptome Profiling of Human and Pig Intestinal Epithelial Cells after Porcine Deltacoronavirus Infection
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020292 - 13 Feb 2021
Viewed by 737
Abstract
Porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) is an emerging infectious disease of swine with zoonotic potential. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that PDCoV originated recently from a host-switching event between birds and mammals. Little is known about how PDCoV interacts with its differing hosts. Human-derived cell lines are [...] Read more.
Porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) is an emerging infectious disease of swine with zoonotic potential. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that PDCoV originated recently from a host-switching event between birds and mammals. Little is known about how PDCoV interacts with its differing hosts. Human-derived cell lines are susceptible to PDCoV infection. Herein, we compare the gene expression profiles of an established host swine cells to potential emerging host human cells after infection with PDCoV. Cell lines derived from intestinal lineages were used to reproduce the primary sites of viral infection in the host. Porcine intestinal epithelial cells (IPEC-J2) and human intestinal epithelial cells (HIEC) were infected with PDCoV. RNA-sequencing was performed on total RNA extracted from infected cells. Human cells exhibited a more pronounced response to PDCoV infection in comparison to porcine cells with more differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in human, 7486, in comparison to pig cells, 1134. On the transcriptional level, the adoptive host human cells exhibited more DEGs in response to PDCoV infection in comparison to the primary pig host cells, where different types of cytokines can control PDCoV replication and virus production. Key immune-associated DEGs and signaling pathways are shared between human and pig cells during PDCoV infection. These included genes related to the NF-kappa-B transcription factor family, the interferon (IFN) family, the protein-kinase family, and signaling pathways such as the apoptosis signaling pathway, JAK-STAT signaling pathway, inflammation/cytokine–cytokine receptor signaling pathway. MAP4K4 was unique in up-regulated DEGs in humans in the apoptosis signaling pathway. While similarities exist between human and pig cells in many pathways, our research suggests that the adaptation of PDCoV to the porcine host required the ability to down-regulate many response pathways including the interferon pathway. Our findings provide an important foundation that contributes to an understanding of the mechanisms of PDCoV infection across different hosts. To our knowledge, this is the first report of transcriptome analysis of human cells infected by PDCoV. Full article
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Brief Report
Titers of Neutralizing Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 Are Independent of Symptoms of Non-Severe COVID-19 in Young Adults
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020284 - 12 Feb 2021
Viewed by 991
Abstract
Neutralizing antibodies are an important part of the humoral immune response to SARS-CoV-2. It is currently unclear to what extent such antibodies are produced after non-severe disease or asymptomatic infection. We studied a cluster of SARS-CoV-2 infections among a homogeneous population of 332 [...] Read more.
Neutralizing antibodies are an important part of the humoral immune response to SARS-CoV-2. It is currently unclear to what extent such antibodies are produced after non-severe disease or asymptomatic infection. We studied a cluster of SARS-CoV-2 infections among a homogeneous population of 332 predominantly male Swiss soldiers and determined the neutralizing antibody response with a serum neutralization assay using a recombinant SARS-CoV-2-GFP. All patients with non-severe COVID-19 showed a swift humoral response within two weeks after the onset of symptoms, which remained stable for the duration of the study. One month after the outbreak, titers in COVID-19 convalescents did not differ from the titers of asymptomatically infected individuals. Furthermore, symptoms of COVID-19 did not correlate with neutralizing antibody titers. Therefore, we conclude that asymptomatic infection can induce the same humoral immunity as non-severe COVID-19 in young adults. Full article
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Article
Berberine and Obatoclax Inhibit SARS-Cov-2 Replication in Primary Human Nasal Epithelial Cells In Vitro
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020282 - 11 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 756
Abstract
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as a new human pathogen in late 2019 and it has infected over 100 million people in less than a year. There is a clear need for effective antiviral drugs to complement current preventive measures, [...] Read more.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as a new human pathogen in late 2019 and it has infected over 100 million people in less than a year. There is a clear need for effective antiviral drugs to complement current preventive measures, including vaccines. In this study, we demonstrate that berberine and obatoclax, two broad-spectrum antiviral compounds, are effective against multiple isolates of SARS-CoV-2. Berberine, a plant-derived alkaloid, inhibited SARS-CoV-2 at low micromolar concentrations and obatoclax, which was originally developed as an anti-apoptotic protein antagonist, was effective at sub-micromolar concentrations. Time-of-addition studies indicated that berberine acts on the late stage of the viral life cycle. In agreement, berberine mildly affected viral RNA synthesis, but it strongly reduced infectious viral titers, leading to an increase in the particle-to-pfu ratio. In contrast, obatoclax acted at the early stage of the infection, which is in line with its activity to neutralize the acidic environment in endosomes. We assessed infection of primary human nasal epithelial cells that were cultured on an air-liquid interface and found that SARS-CoV-2 infection induced and repressed expression of specific sets of cytokines and chemokines. Moreover, both obatoclax and berberine inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in these primary target cells. We propose berberine and obatoclax as potential antiviral drugs against SARS-CoV-2 that could be considered for further efficacy testing. Full article
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Article
Genomic Signatures of SARS-CoV-2 Associated with Patient Mortality
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020227 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 887
Abstract
Infections with SARS-CoV-2 can progress toward multiple clinical outcomes, and the identification of factors associated with disease severity would represent a major advance to guide care and improve prognosis. We tested for associations between SARS-CoV-2 genomic variants from an international cohort of 2508 [...] Read more.
Infections with SARS-CoV-2 can progress toward multiple clinical outcomes, and the identification of factors associated with disease severity would represent a major advance to guide care and improve prognosis. We tested for associations between SARS-CoV-2 genomic variants from an international cohort of 2508 patients and mortality rates. Findings were validated in a second cohort. Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences revealed four well-resolved clades which had significantly different mortality rates, even after adjusting for patient demographic and geographic characteristics. We further identified ten single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the SARS-CoV-2 genome that were associated with patient mortality. Three SNPs remained associated with mortality in a generalized linear model (GLM) that also included patient age, sex, geographic region, and month of sample collection. Multiple SNPs were confirmed in the validation cohort. These SNPs represent targets to assess the mechanisms underlying COVID-19 disease severity and warrant straightforward validation in functional studies. Full article
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Review
COVID-19: A Review on the Novel Coronavirus Disease Evolution, Transmission, Detection, Control and Prevention
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020202 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1936
Abstract
Three major outbreaks of the coronavirus, a zoonotic virus known to cause respiratory disease, have been reported since 2002, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and the most recent 2019-nCoV, or more recently known as SARS-CoV-2. Bats are known to be the primary animal reservoir for [...] Read more.
Three major outbreaks of the coronavirus, a zoonotic virus known to cause respiratory disease, have been reported since 2002, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and the most recent 2019-nCoV, or more recently known as SARS-CoV-2. Bats are known to be the primary animal reservoir for coronaviruses. However, in the past few decades, the virus has been able to mutate and adapt to infect humans, resulting in an animal-to-human species barrier jump. The emergence of a novel coronavirus poses a serious global public health threat and possibly carries the potential of causing a major pandemic outbreak in the naïve human population. The recent outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China has infected over 36.5 million individuals and claimed over one million lives worldwide, as of 8 October 2020. The novel virus is rapidly spreading across China and has been transmitted to 213 other countries/territories across the globe. Researchers have reported that the virus is constantly evolving and spreading through asymptomatic carriers, further suggesting a high global health threat. To this end, current up-to-date information on the coronavirus evolution and SARS-CoV-2 modes of transmission, detection techniques and current control and prevention strategies are summarized in this review. Full article
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Review
Biological and Clinical Consequences of Integrin Binding via a Rogue RGD Motif in the SARS CoV-2 Spike Protein
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020146 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 6270
Abstract
Although ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) is considered the primary receptor for CoV-2 cell entry, recent reports suggest that alternative pathways may contribute. This paper considers the hypothesis that viral binding to cell-surface integrins may contribute to the high infectivity and widespread extra-pulmonary [...] Read more.
Although ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) is considered the primary receptor for CoV-2 cell entry, recent reports suggest that alternative pathways may contribute. This paper considers the hypothesis that viral binding to cell-surface integrins may contribute to the high infectivity and widespread extra-pulmonary impacts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This potential is suggested on the basis of the emergence of an RGD (arginine-glycine-aspartate) sequence in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein. RGD is a motif commonly used by viruses to bind cell-surface integrins. Numerous signaling pathways are mediated by integrins and virion binding could lead to dysregulation of these pathways, with consequent tissue damage. Integrins on the surfaces of pneumocytes, endothelial cells and platelets may be vulnerable to CoV-2 virion binding. For instance, binding of intact virions to integrins on alveolar cells could enhance viral entry. Binding of virions to integrins on endothelial cells could activate angiogenic cell signaling pathways; dysregulate integrin-mediated signaling pathways controlling developmental processes; and precipitate endothelial activation to initiate blood clotting. Such a procoagulant state, perhaps together with enhancement of platelet aggregation through virions binding to integrins on platelets, could amplify the production of microthrombi that pose the threat of pulmonary thrombosis and embolism, strokes and other thrombotic consequences. The susceptibility of different tissues to virion–integrin interactions may be modulated by a host of factors, including the conformation of relevant integrins and the impact of the tissue microenvironment on spike protein conformation. Patient-specific differences in these factors may contribute to the high variability of clinical presentation. There is danger that the emergence of receptor-binding domain mutations that increase infectivity may also enhance access of the RGD motif for integrin binding, resulting in viral strains with ACE2 independent routes of cell entry and novel integrin-mediated biological and clinical impacts. The highly infectious variant, B.1.1.7 (or VUI 202012/01), includes a receptor-binding domain amino acid replacement, N501Y, that could potentially provide the RGD motif with enhanced access to cell-surface integrins, with consequent clinical impacts. Full article
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Article
Structural Mapping of Mutations in Spike, RdRp and Orf3a Genes of SARS-CoV-2 in Influenza Like Illness (ILI) Patients
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13010136 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 857
Abstract
In December 2019, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in China led to a pandemic. Since both Influenza Like Illness (ILI) and COVID-19 case definitions overlap, we re-investigated the ILI cases using PCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in 739 nasopharyngeal swabs collected from [...] Read more.
In December 2019, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in China led to a pandemic. Since both Influenza Like Illness (ILI) and COVID-19 case definitions overlap, we re-investigated the ILI cases using PCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in 739 nasopharyngeal swabs collected from November 2019 to March 2020. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was found in 37 samples (5%) collected mostly during February 2020. It was followed by confirmation of evolutionary and spatial relationships using next generation sequencing (NGS). We observed that the overall incidence of ILI cases during 2019–2020 influenza season was considerably higher than previous years and was gradually replaced with SARS-CoV-2, which indicated a silent transmission among ambulatory patients. Sequencing of representative isolates confirmed independent introductions and silent transmission earlier than previously thought. Evolutionary and spatial analyses revealed clustering in the GH clade, characterized by three amino acid substitutions in spike gene (D614G), RdRp (P323L) and NS3 (Q57H). P323L causes conformational change near nsp8 binding site that might affect virus replication and transcription. In conclusion, assessment of the community transmission among patients with mild COVID-19 illness, particularly those without epidemiological link for acquiring the virus, is of utmost importance to guide policy makers to optimize public health interventions. The detection of SARS-CoV-2 in ILI cases shows the importance of ILI surveillance systems and warrants its further strengthening to mitigate the ongoing transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The effect of NS3 substitutions on oligomerization or membrane channel function (intra- and extracellular) needs functional validation. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021

Article
Computational Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-Like Coronavirus Diversity in Human, Bat and Pangolin Populations
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13010049 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1856
Abstract
In 2019, a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2/nCoV-19, emerged in Wuhan, China, and has been responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic. The evolutionary origins of the virus remain elusive and understanding its complex mutational signatures could guide vaccine design and development. As part of the [...] Read more.
In 2019, a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2/nCoV-19, emerged in Wuhan, China, and has been responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic. The evolutionary origins of the virus remain elusive and understanding its complex mutational signatures could guide vaccine design and development. As part of the international “CoronaHack” in April 2020, we employed a collection of contemporary methodologies to compare the genomic sequences of coronaviruses isolated from human (SARS-CoV-2; n = 163), bat (bat-CoV; n = 215) and pangolin (pangolin-CoV; n = 7) available in public repositories. We have also noted the pangolin-CoV isolate MP789 to bare stronger resemblance to SARS-CoV-2 than other pangolin-CoV. Following de novo gene annotation prediction, analyses of gene–gene similarity network, codon usage bias and variant discovery were undertaken. Strong host-associated divergences were noted in ORF3a, ORF6, ORF7a, ORF8 and S, and in codon usage bias profiles. Last, we have characterised several high impact variants (in-frame insertion/deletion or stop gain) in bat-CoV and pangolin-CoV populations, some of which are found in the same amino acid position and may be highlighting loci of potential functional relevance. Full article
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Article
SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid Protein Interacts with RIG-I and Represses RIG-Mediated IFN-β Production
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13010047 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1126
Abstract
SARS-CoV-2 is highly pathogenic in humans and poses a great threat to public health worldwide. Clinical data shows a disturbed type I interferon (IFN) response during the virus infection. In this study, we discovered that the nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2 plays an [...] Read more.
SARS-CoV-2 is highly pathogenic in humans and poses a great threat to public health worldwide. Clinical data shows a disturbed type I interferon (IFN) response during the virus infection. In this study, we discovered that the nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2 plays an important role in the inhibition of interferon beta (IFN-β) production. N protein repressed IFN-β production induced by poly(I:C) or upon Sendai virus (SeV) infection. We noted that N protein also suppressed IFN-β production, induced by several signaling molecules downstream of the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) pathway, which is the crucial pattern recognition receptor (PRR) responsible for identifying RNA viruses. Moreover, our data demonstrated that N protein interacted with the RIG-I protein through the DExD/H domain, which has ATPase activity and plays an important role in the binding of immunostimulatory RNAs. These results suggested that SARS-CoV-2 N protein suppresses the IFN-β response through targeting the initial step, potentially the cellular PRR–RNA-recognition step in the innate immune pathway. Therefore, we propose that the SARS-CoV-2 N protein represses IFN-β production by interfering with RIG-I. Full article
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Brief Report
PSGL-1 Inhibits the Incorporation of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoproteins into Pseudovirions and Impairs Pseudovirus Attachment and Infectivity
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13010046 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 826
Abstract
P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1) is a cell surface glycoprotein that binds to P-, E-, and L-selectins to mediate the tethering and rolling of immune cells on the surface of the endothelium for cell migration into inflamed tissues. PSGL-1 has been identified as an [...] Read more.
P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1) is a cell surface glycoprotein that binds to P-, E-, and L-selectins to mediate the tethering and rolling of immune cells on the surface of the endothelium for cell migration into inflamed tissues. PSGL-1 has been identified as an interferon-γ (INF-γ)-regulated factor that restricts HIV-1 infectivity, and has recently been found to possess broad-spectrum antiviral activities. Here we report that the expression of PSGL-1 in virus-producing cells impairs the incorporation of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoproteins into pseudovirions and blocks pseudovirus attachment and infection of target cells. These findings suggest that PSGL-1 may potentially inhibit coronavirus replication in PSGL-1+ cells Full article
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Article
Early Humoral Response Correlates with Disease Severity and Outcomes in COVID-19 Patients
Viruses 2020, 12(12), 1390; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12121390 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1924
Abstract
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, continues to spread globally with significantly high morbidity and mortality rates. Antigen-specific responses are of unquestionable value for clinical management of COVID-19 patients. Here, we investigated the kinetics of IgM, IgG against the spike (S) [...] Read more.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, continues to spread globally with significantly high morbidity and mortality rates. Antigen-specific responses are of unquestionable value for clinical management of COVID-19 patients. Here, we investigated the kinetics of IgM, IgG against the spike (S) and nucleoproteins (N) proteins and their neutralizing capabilities in hospitalized COVID-19 patients with different disease presentations (i.e., mild, moderate or severe), need for intensive care units (ICU) admission or outcomes (i.e., survival vs death). We show that SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG, IgM and neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) were readily detectable in almost all COVID-19 patients with various clinical presentations. Interestingly, significantly higher levels of nAbs as well as anti-S1 and -N IgG and IgM antibodies were found in patients with more severe symptoms, patients requiring admission to ICU or those with fatal outcomes. More importantly, early after symptoms onset, we found that the levels of anti-N antibodies correlated strongly with disease severity. Collectively, these findings provide new insights into the kinetics of antibody responses in COVID-19 patients with different disease severity. Full article
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Article
Persisting Neutralizing Activity to SARS-CoV-2 over Months in Sera of COVID-19 Patients
Viruses 2020, 12(12), 1357; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12121357 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 990
Abstract
The relationship between the nasopharyngeal virus load, IgA and IgG antibodies to both the S1-RBD-protein and the N-protein, as well as the neutralizing activity (NAbs) against SARS-CoV-2 in the blood of moderately afflicted COVID-19 patients, needs further longitudinal investigation. Several new serological methods [...] Read more.
The relationship between the nasopharyngeal virus load, IgA and IgG antibodies to both the S1-RBD-protein and the N-protein, as well as the neutralizing activity (NAbs) against SARS-CoV-2 in the blood of moderately afflicted COVID-19 patients, needs further longitudinal investigation. Several new serological methods to examine these parameters were developed, validated and applied in three patients of a family which underwent an ambulatory course of COVID-19 for six months. The virus load had almost completely disappeared after about four weeks. Serum IgA levels to the S1-RBD-protein and, to a lesser extent, to the N-protein, peaked about three weeks after clinical disease onset but declined soon thereafter. IgG levels rose continuously, reaching a plateau at approximately six weeks, and stayed elevated over the observation period. Virus-neutralizing activity reached a peak about 4 weeks after disease onset but dropped slowly. The longitudinal associations of virus neutralization and the serological immune response suggest immunity in patients even after a mild clinical course of COVID-19. Full article
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Editorial
COVID-19 and School Activities in Italy
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1339; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111339 - 23 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2264
Abstract
After a linear growth during September, the diffusion in Italy of SARS-CoV-2, responsible for COVID-19, has been growing exponentially since the end of that month with a doubling time approximately equal to one week [...] Full article
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Article
CD4 and CD8 Lymphocyte Counts as Surrogate Early Markers for Progression in SARS-CoV-2 Pneumonia: A Prospective Study
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1277; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111277 - 09 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 801
Abstract
Background: COVID-19 pathophysiology and the predictive factors involved are not fully understood, but lymphocytes dysregulation appears to play a role. This paper aims to evaluate lymphocyte subsets in the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and as predictive factors for severe disease. Patient and methods: A [...] Read more.
Background: COVID-19 pathophysiology and the predictive factors involved are not fully understood, but lymphocytes dysregulation appears to play a role. This paper aims to evaluate lymphocyte subsets in the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and as predictive factors for severe disease. Patient and methods: A prospective cohort study of patients with SARS-CoV-2 bilateral pneumonia recruited at hospital admission. Demographics, medical history, and data regarding SARS-CoV-2 infection were recorded. Patients systematically underwent complete laboratory tests, including parameters related to COVID-19 as well as lymphocyte subsets study at the time of admission. Severe disease criteria were established at admission, and patients were classified on remote follow-up according to disease evolution. Linear regression models were used to assess associations with disease evolution, and Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) and the corresponding Area Under the Curve (AUC) were used to evaluate predictive values. Results: Patients with critical COVID-19 showed a decrease in CD3+CD4+ T cells count compared to non-critical (278 (485 IQR) vs. 545 (322 IQR)), a decrease in median CD4+/CD8+ ratio (1.7, (1.7 IQR) vs. 3.1 (2.4 IQR)), and a decrease in median CD4+MFI (21,820 (4491 IQR) vs. 26,259 (3256 IQR)), which persisted after adjustment. CD3+CD8+ T cells count had a high correlation with time to hospital discharge (PC = −0.700 (−0.931, −0.066)). ROC curves for predictive value showed lymphocyte subsets achieving the best performances, specifically CD3+CD4+ T cells (AUC = 0.756), CD4+/CD8+ ratio (AUC = 0.767), and CD4+MFI (AUC = 0.848). Conclusions: A predictive value and treatment considerations for lymphocyte subsets are suggested, especially for CD3CD4+ T cells. Lymphocyte subsets determination at hospital admission is recommended. Full article
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Brief Report
A Cell-Based ELISA to Improve the Serological Analysis of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1274; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111274 - 08 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1035
Abstract
Knowledge of the antibody-mediated immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is crucial to understand virus immunogenicity, establish seroprevalence, and determine whether subjects or recovered patients are at risk for infection/reinfection and would therefore benefit from vaccination. Here, we describe a novel and simple cell-ELISA specifically [...] Read more.
Knowledge of the antibody-mediated immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is crucial to understand virus immunogenicity, establish seroprevalence, and determine whether subjects or recovered patients are at risk for infection/reinfection and would therefore benefit from vaccination. Here, we describe a novel and simple cell-ELISA specifically designed to measure viral spike S1-specific IgG produced in vitro by B cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) cultures from a cohort of 45 asymptomatic (n = 24) and symptomatic (n = 21) individuals, with age ranging from 8 to 99 years. All subjects underwent ELISA serological screening twice, at the same time as the cell-ELISA (T2) as well as 35–60 days earlier (T1). Cryopreserved PBMCs of healthy donors obtained years before the COVID-19 pandemic were also included in the analysis. The preliminary results presented here show that out of 45 tested subjects, 16 individuals (35.5%) were positive to the cell-ELISA, 11 (24.5%) were concomitantly positive in the serological screening (T1 and/or T2), and only one person was exclusively positive in ELISA (T1) and negative in cell-ELISA, though values were close to the cutoff. Of note, five individuals (11.2%) tested negative in ELISA but positive in cell-ELISA and thus, they appear to have circulating B cells that produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, likely at levels that are undetectable in the serum, which challenges the negative results of the serological screening. The relative level of in vitro secreted IgG was measurable in positive subjects, ranging from 7 to 50 ng/well. Accordingly, all anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody-positive subjects previously reported moderate to severe symptoms attributable to COVID-19, even though the RT-PCR data were rarely available to confirm viral infection. Overall, the described cell-ELISA might be an effective method for detecting subjects who encountered the virus in the past, and thus helpful to improve serological ELISA tests in the case of undetectable/equivocal circulating IgG levels, and a suitable and improved tool to better evaluate SARS-CoV-2-specific humoral immunity in the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
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Article
First Phylogenetic Analysis of Malian SARS-CoV-2 Sequences Provides Molecular Insights into the Genomic Diversity of the Sahel Region
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1251; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111251 - 02 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 828
Abstract
We are currently facing a pandemic of COVID-19, caused by a spillover from an animal-originating coronavirus to humans occurring in the Wuhan region of China in December 2019. From China, the virus has spread to 188 countries and regions worldwide, reaching the Sahel [...] Read more.
We are currently facing a pandemic of COVID-19, caused by a spillover from an animal-originating coronavirus to humans occurring in the Wuhan region of China in December 2019. From China, the virus has spread to 188 countries and regions worldwide, reaching the Sahel region on 2 March 2020. Since whole genome sequencing (WGS) data is very crucial to understand the spreading dynamics of the ongoing pandemic, but only limited sequencing data is available from the Sahel region to date, we have focused our efforts on generating the first Malian sequencing data available. Screening 217 Malian patient samples for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 resulted in 38 positive isolates, from which 21 whole genome sequences were generated. Our analysis shows that both the early A (19B) and the later observed B (20A/C) clade are present in Mali, indicating multiple and independent introductions of SARS-CoV-2 to the Sahel region. Full article
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Review
COVID-19: Look to the Future, Learn from the Past
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1226; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111226 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1342
Abstract
There is a current pandemic of a new type of coronavirus, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The number of confirmed infected cases has been rapidly increasing. This paper analyzes the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 in comparison with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [...] Read more.
There is a current pandemic of a new type of coronavirus, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The number of confirmed infected cases has been rapidly increasing. This paper analyzes the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 in comparison with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and influenza. COVID-19 is similar to the diseases caused by SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV virologically and etiologically, but closer to influenza in epidemiology and virulence. The comparison provides a new perspective for the future of the disease control, and offers some ideas in the prevention and control management strategy. The large number of infectious people from the origin, and the highly infectious and occult nature have been two major problems, making the virus difficult to eradicate. We thus need to contemplate the possibility of long-term co-existence with COVID-19. Full article
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Editorial
The Importance of Research on the Origin of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1203; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111203 - 22 Oct 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3405
Abstract
The origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet been fully determined. Despite the consensus about the SARS-CoV-2 origin from bat CoV RaTG13, discrepancy to host tropism to other human Coronaviruses exist. SARS-CoV-2 also [...] Read more.
The origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet been fully determined. Despite the consensus about the SARS-CoV-2 origin from bat CoV RaTG13, discrepancy to host tropism to other human Coronaviruses exist. SARS-CoV-2 also possesses some differences in its S protein receptor-binding domain, glycan-binding N-terminal domain and the surface of the sialic acid-binding domain. Despite similarities based on cryo-EM and biochemical studies, the SARS-CoV-2 shows higher stability and binding affinity to the ACE2 receptor. The SARS-CoV-2 does not appear to present a mutational “hot spot” as only the D614G mutation has been identified from clinical isolates. As laboratory manipulation is highly unlikely for the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the current possibilities comprise either natural selection in animal host before zoonotic transfer or natural selection in humans following zoonotic transfer. In the former case, despite SARS-CoV-2 and bat RaTG13 showing 96% identity some pangolin Coronaviruses exhibit very high similarity to particularly the receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2. In the latter case, it can be hypothesized that the SARS-CoV-2 genome has adapted during human-to-human transmission and based on available data, the isolated SARS-CoV-2 genomes derive from a common origin. Before the origin of SARS-CoV-2 can be confirmed additional research is required Full article
Article
Frequency and Duration of SARS-CoV-2 Shedding in Oral Fluid Samples Assessed by a Modified Commercial Rapid Molecular Assay
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1184; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101184 - 20 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2262
Abstract
Background: RT-PCR on nasopharyngeal (NPS)/oropharyngeal swabs is the gold standard for diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and viral load monitoring. Oral fluid (OF) is an alternate clinical sample, easy and safer to collect and could be useful for COVID-19 diagnosis, monitoring viral load and [...] Read more.
Background: RT-PCR on nasopharyngeal (NPS)/oropharyngeal swabs is the gold standard for diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and viral load monitoring. Oral fluid (OF) is an alternate clinical sample, easy and safer to collect and could be useful for COVID-19 diagnosis, monitoring viral load and shedding. Methods: Optimal assay conditions and analytical sensitivity were established for the commercial Simplexa™ COVID-19 Direct assay adapted to OF matrix. The assay was used to test 337 OF and NPS specimens collected in parallel from 164 hospitalized patients; 50 bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens from a subgroup of severe COVID-19 cases were also analysed. Results: Using Simplexa™ COVID-19 Direct on OF matrix, 100% analytical detection down to 1 TCID50/mL (corresponding to 4 × 103 copies (cp)/mL) was observed. No crossreaction with other viruses transmitted through the respiratory toute was observed. Parallel testing of 337 OF and NPS samples showed highly concordant results (κ = 0.831; 95 % CI = 0.771–0.891), and high correlation of Ct values (r = 0.921; p < 0.0001). High concordance and elevated correlation was observed also between OF and BAL. Prolonged viral RNA shedding was observed up to 100 days from symptoms onset (DSO), with 32% and 29% positivity observed in OF and NPS samples, respectively, collected between 60 and 100 DSO. Conclusions: Simplexa™ COVID-19 Direct assays on OF have high sensitivity and specificity to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA and provide an alternative to NPS for diagnosis and monitoring SARS-CoV-2 shedding. Full article
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Communication
Expression Pattern of the SARS-CoV-2 Entry Genes ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in the Respiratory Tract
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1174; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101174 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1189
Abstract
To address the expression pattern of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 and the viral priming protease TMPRSS2 in the respiratory tract, this study investigated RNA sequencing transcriptome profiling of samples of airway and oral mucosa. As shown, ACE2 has medium levels of expression in [...] Read more.
To address the expression pattern of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 and the viral priming protease TMPRSS2 in the respiratory tract, this study investigated RNA sequencing transcriptome profiling of samples of airway and oral mucosa. As shown, ACE2 has medium levels of expression in both small airway epithelium and masticatory mucosa, and high levels of expression in nasal epithelium. The expression of ACE2 is low in mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells and cannot be detected in alveolar macrophages. TMPRSS2 is highly expressed in small airway epithelium and nasal epithelium and has lower expression in masticatory mucosa. Our results provide the molecular basis that the nasal mucosa is the most susceptible locus in the respiratory tract for SARS-CoV-2 infection and consequently for subsequent droplet transmission and should be the focus for protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Full article
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Article
Amplicon-Based Detection and Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in Nasopharyngeal Swabs from Patients With COVID-19 and Identification of Deletions in the Viral Genome That Encode Proteins Involved in Interferon Antagonism
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1164; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101164 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2010
Abstract
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Sequencing the viral genome as the outbreak progresses is important, particularly in the identification of emerging isolates with different pathogenic potential and to identify whether nucleotide changes [...] Read more.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Sequencing the viral genome as the outbreak progresses is important, particularly in the identification of emerging isolates with different pathogenic potential and to identify whether nucleotide changes in the genome will impair clinical diagnostic tools such as real-time PCR assays. Although single nucleotide polymorphisms and point mutations occur during the replication of coronaviruses, one of the biggest drivers in genetic change is recombination. This can manifest itself in insertions and/or deletions in the viral genome. Therefore, sequencing strategies that underpin molecular epidemiology and inform virus biology in patients should take these factors into account. A long amplicon/read length-based RT-PCR sequencing approach focused on the Oxford Nanopore MinION/GridION platforms was developed to identify and sequence the SARS-CoV-2 genome in samples from patients with or suspected of COVID-19. The protocol, termed Rapid Sequencing Long Amplicons (RSLAs) used random primers to generate cDNA from RNA purified from a sample from a patient, followed by single or multiplex PCRs to generate longer amplicons of the viral genome. The base protocol was used to identify SARS-CoV-2 in a variety of clinical samples and proved sensitive in identifying viral RNA in samples from patients that had been declared negative using other nucleic acid-based assays (false negative). Sequencing the amplicons revealed that a number of patients had a proportion of viral genomes with deletions. Full article
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Article
Tracking SARS-CoV-2 in Sewage: Evidence of Changes in Virus Variant Predominance during COVID-19 Pandemic
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1144; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101144 - 09 Oct 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4017
Abstract
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, is frequently shed in faeces during infection, and viral RNA has recently been detected in sewage in some countries. We have investigated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in [...] Read more.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, is frequently shed in faeces during infection, and viral RNA has recently been detected in sewage in some countries. We have investigated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater samples from South-East England between 14th January and 12th May 2020. A novel nested RT-PCR approach targeting five different regions of the viral genome improved the sensitivity of RT-qPCR assays and generated nucleotide sequences at sites with known sequence polymorphisms among SARS-CoV-2 isolates. We were able to detect co-circulating virus variants, some specifically prevalent in England, and to identify changes in viral RNA sequences with time consistent with the recently reported increasing global dominance of Spike protein G614 pandemic variant. Low levels of viral RNA were detected in a sample from 11th February, 3 days before the first case was reported in the sewage plant catchment area. SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentration increased in March and April, and a sharp reduction was observed in May, showing the effects of lockdown measures. We conclude that viral RNA sequences found in sewage closely resemble those from clinical samples and that environmental surveillance can be used to monitor SARS-CoV-2 transmission, tracing virus variants and detecting virus importations. Full article
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Article
Host Immune Response Driving SARS-CoV-2 Evolution
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1095; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101095 - 27 Sep 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2161
Abstract
The transmission and evolution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are of paramount importance in controlling and combating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Currently, over 15,000 SARS-CoV-2 single mutations have been recorded, which have a great impact on the development [...] Read more.
The transmission and evolution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are of paramount importance in controlling and combating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Currently, over 15,000 SARS-CoV-2 single mutations have been recorded, which have a great impact on the development of diagnostics, vaccines, antibody therapies, and drugs. However, little is known about SARS-CoV-2’s evolutionary characteristics and general trend. In this work, we present a comprehensive genotyping analysis of existing SARS-CoV-2 mutations. We reveal that host immune response via APOBEC and ADAR gene editing gives rise to near 65% of recorded mutations. Additionally, we show that children under age five and the elderly may be at high risk from COVID-19 because of their overreaction to the viral infection. Moreover, we uncover that populations of Oceania and Africa react significantly more intensively to SARS-CoV-2 infection than those of Europe and Asia, which may explain why African Americans were shown to be at increased risk of dying from COVID-19, in addition to their high risk of COVID-19 infection caused by systemic health and social inequities. Finally, our study indicates that for two viral genome sequences of the same origin, their evolution order may be determined from the ratio of mutation type, C > T over T > C. Full article
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Article
Identification of a Membrane Binding Peptide in the Envelope Protein of MHV Coronavirus
Viruses 2020, 12(9), 1054; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12091054 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1303
Abstract
Coronaviruses (CoVs) are enveloped, positive sense, single strand RNA viruses that cause respiratory, intestinal and neurological diseases in mammals and birds. Following replication, CoVs assemble on intracellular membranes including the endoplasmic reticulum Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC) where the envelope protein (E) functions in [...] Read more.
Coronaviruses (CoVs) are enveloped, positive sense, single strand RNA viruses that cause respiratory, intestinal and neurological diseases in mammals and birds. Following replication, CoVs assemble on intracellular membranes including the endoplasmic reticulum Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC) where the envelope protein (E) functions in virus assembly and release. In consequence, E potentially contains membrane-modifying peptides. To search for such peptides, the E coding sequence of Mouse Hepatitis Virus (MHV) was inspected for its amino acid conservation, proximity to the membrane and/or predicted amphipathic helices. Peptides identified in silico were synthesized and tested for membrane-modifying activity in the presence of giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) consisting of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC), sphingomyelin and cholesterol. To confirm the presence of membrane binding peptides identified in the context of a full-length E protein, the wild type and a number of mutants in the putative membrane binding peptide were expressed in Lenti-X-293T mammalian and insect cells, and the distribution of E antigen within the expressing cell was assessed. Our data identify a role for the post-transmembrane region of MHV E in membrane binding. Full article
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Article
RNAemia Corresponds to Disease Severity and Antibody Response in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
Viruses 2020, 12(9), 1045; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12091045 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1474
Abstract
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) represents a global health emergency. To improve the understanding of the systemic component of SARS-CoV-2, we investigated if viral load dynamics in plasma and respiratory samples are associated with antibody response and severity of coronavirus disease [...] Read more.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) represents a global health emergency. To improve the understanding of the systemic component of SARS-CoV-2, we investigated if viral load dynamics in plasma and respiratory samples are associated with antibody response and severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 RNA was found in plasma samples from 14 (44%) out of 32 patients. RNAemia was detected in 5 out of 6 fatal cases. Peak IgG values were significantly lower in mild/moderate than in severe (0.6 (interquartile range, IQR, 0.4–3.2) vs. 11.8 (IQR, 9.9–13.0), adjusted p = 0.003) or critical cases (11.29 (IQR, 8.3–12.0), adjusted p = 0.042). IgG titers were significantly associated with virus Ct (Cycle threshold) value in plasma and respiratory specimens ((ß = 0.4, 95% CI (confidence interval, 0.2; 0.5), p < 0.001 and ß = 0.5, 95% CI (0.2; 0.6), p = 0.002). A classification as severe or a critical case was additionally inversely associated with Ct values in plasma in comparison to mild/moderate cases (ß = −3.3, 95% CI (−5.8; 0.8), p = 0.024 and ß = −4.4, 95% CI (−7.2; 1.6), p = 0.007, respectively). Based on the present data, our hypothesis is that the early stage of SARS-CoV-2 infection is characterized by a primary RNAemia, as a potential manifestation of a systemic infection. Additionally, the viral load in plasma seems to be associated with a worse disease outcome. Full article
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Article
Spatio-Temporal Mutational Profile Appearances of Swedish SARS-CoV-2 during the Early Pandemic
Viruses 2020, 12(9), 1026; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12091026 - 14 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1288
Abstract
Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus evolved, and we therefore aimed to provide an insight into which genetic variants were enriched, and how they spread in Sweden. Methods: We analyzed 348 Swedish SARS-CoV-2 sequences freely available from GISAID obtained from 7 February [...] Read more.
Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus evolved, and we therefore aimed to provide an insight into which genetic variants were enriched, and how they spread in Sweden. Methods: We analyzed 348 Swedish SARS-CoV-2 sequences freely available from GISAID obtained from 7 February 2020 until 14 May 2020. Results: We identified 14 variant sites ≥5% frequency in the population. Among those sites, the D936Y substitution in the viral Spike protein was under positive selection. The variant sites can distinguish 11 mutational profiles in Sweden. Nine of the profiles appeared in Stockholm in March 2020. Mutational profiles 3 (B.1.1) and 6 (B.1), which contain the D936Y mutation, became the predominant profiles over time, spreading from Stockholm to other Swedish regions during April and the beginning of May. Furthermore, Bayesian phylogenetic analysis indicated that SARS-CoV-2 could have emerged in Sweden on 27 December 2019, and community transmission started on February 1st with an evolutionary rate of 1.5425 × 10−3 substitutions per year. Conclusions: Our study provides novel knowledge on the spatio-temporal dynamics of Swedish SARS-CoV-2 variants during the early pandemic. Characterization of these viral variants can provide precious insights on viral pathogenesis and can be valuable for diagnostic and drug development approaches. Full article
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Article
Artificial Intelligence-Assisted Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (AI-LAMP) for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2020, 12(9), 972; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12090972 - 01 Sep 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3272
Abstract
Until vaccines and effective therapeutics become available, the practical solution to transit safely out of the current coronavirus disease 19 (CoVID-19) lockdown may include the implementation of an effective testing, tracing and tracking system. However, this requires a reliable and clinically validated diagnostic [...] Read more.
Until vaccines and effective therapeutics become available, the practical solution to transit safely out of the current coronavirus disease 19 (CoVID-19) lockdown may include the implementation of an effective testing, tracing and tracking system. However, this requires a reliable and clinically validated diagnostic platform for the sensitive and specific identification of SARS-CoV-2. Here, we report on the development of a de novo, high-resolution and comparative genomics guided reverse-transcribed loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay. To further enhance the assay performance and to remove any subjectivity associated with operator interpretation of results, we engineered a novel hand-held smart diagnostic device. The robust diagnostic device was further furnished with automated image acquisition and processing algorithms and the collated data was processed through artificial intelligence (AI) pipelines to further reduce the assay run time and the subjectivity of the colorimetric LAMP detection. This advanced AI algorithm-implemented LAMP (ai-LAMP) assay, targeting the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene, showed high analytical sensitivity and specificity for SARS-CoV-2. A total of ~200 coronavirus disease (CoVID-19)-suspected NHS patient samples were tested using the platform and it was shown to be reliable, highly specific and significantly more sensitive than the current gold standard qRT-PCR. Therefore, this system could provide an efficient and cost-effective platform to detect SARS-CoV-2 in resource-limited laboratories. Full article
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Article
A Comparison of Whole Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 Using Amplicon-Based Sequencing, Random Hexamers, and Bait Capture
Viruses 2020, 12(8), 895; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12080895 - 15 Aug 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3059
Abstract
Genome sequencing of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is increasingly important to monitor the transmission and adaptive evolution of the virus. The accessibility of high-throughput methods and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has facilitated a growing ecosystem of protocols. Two differing protocols [...] Read more.
Genome sequencing of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is increasingly important to monitor the transmission and adaptive evolution of the virus. The accessibility of high-throughput methods and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has facilitated a growing ecosystem of protocols. Two differing protocols are tiling multiplex PCR and bait capture enrichment. Each method has advantages and disadvantages but a direct comparison with different viral RNA concentrations has not been performed to assess the performance of these approaches. Here we compare Liverpool amplification, ARTIC amplification, and bait capture using clinical diagnostics samples. All libraries were sequenced using an Illumina MiniSeq with data analyzed using a standardized bioinformatics workflow (SARS-CoV-2 Illumina GeNome Assembly Line; SIGNAL). One sample showed poor SARS-CoV-2 genome coverage and consensus, reflective of low viral RNA concentration. In contrast, the second sample had a higher viral RNA concentration, which yielded good genome coverage and consensus. ARTIC amplification showed the highest depth of coverage results for both samples, suggesting this protocol is effective for low concentrations. Liverpool amplification provided a more even read coverage of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, but at a lower depth of coverage. Bait capture enrichment of SARS-CoV-2 cDNA provided results on par with amplification. While only two clinical samples were examined in this comparative analysis, both the Liverpool and ARTIC amplification methods showed differing efficacy for high and low concentration samples. In addition, amplification-free bait capture enriched sequencing of cDNA is a viable method for generating a SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence and for identification of amplification artifacts. Full article
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