Science Signaling | 2021

Long-chain polyphosphates impair SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication



Long-chain polyphosphates inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection by targeting a host receptor and a viral RNA polymerase. Polyphosphates versus SARS-CoV-2 Long-chain, inorganic polyphosphates (polyPs), which are found in many cells in the blood, have cytoprotective and antiviral activities, particularly against HIV-1 infection. Ferrucci et al. tested the effects of polyPs of various lengths on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in vitro. Molecular docking and binding analyses showed that polyPs bound to the host receptor ACE2, which facilitates viral entry, and a viral RNA polymerase required for replication. Both proteins underwent proteasomal degradation in cells incubated with polyP120, the optimal species tested, resulting in inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 replication and a reduced inflammatory response. Given that polyPs have low toxicity, these results suggest that their potential therapeutic use should be further explored. Inorganic polyphosphates (polyPs) are linear polymers composed of repeated phosphate (PO43−) units linked together by multiple high-energy phosphoanhydride bonds. In addition to being a source of energy, polyPs have cytoprotective and antiviral activities. Here, we investigated the antiviral activities of long-chain polyPs against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. In molecular docking analyses, polyPs interacted with several conserved amino acid residues in angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the host receptor that facilitates virus entry, and in viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). ELISA and limited proteolysis assays using nano– LC-MS/MS mapped polyP120 binding to ACE2, and site-directed mutagenesis confirmed interactions between ACE2 and SARS-CoV-2 RdRp and identified the specific amino acid residues involved. PolyP120 enhanced the proteasomal degradation of both ACE2 and RdRp, thus impairing replication of the British B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant. We thus tested polyPs for functional interactions with the virus in SARS-CoV-2–infected Vero E6 and Caco2 cells and in primary human nasal epithelial cells. Delivery of a nebulized form of polyP120 reduced the amounts of viral positive-sense genomic and subgenomic RNAs, of RNA transcripts encoding proinflammatory cytokines, and of viral structural proteins, thereby presenting SARS-CoV-2 infection in cells in vitro.

Volume 14
Pages None
DOI 10.1126/scisignal.abe5040
Language English
Journal Science Signaling

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