Warning: This is a preliminary report that has not been peer-reviewed. It should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information.

Pharmacophore-based peptide biologics neutralize SARS-CoV-2 S1 and deter S1-ACE2 interaction in vitro (Preliminary Report)

Effective therapeutics and stable vaccine are the urgent need of the day to combat COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein has a pivotal role in cell-entry and host immune response, thus regarded as potential drug- and vaccine-target. As the virus utilizes the S1 domain of spike to initiate cell-attachment and S2 ...
domain for membrane fusion, several attempts have been made to design viral-receptor and viral-fusion blockers. Here, by deploying interactive structure-based design and pharmacophore-based approaches, we designed short and stable peptide-biologics i.e. CoV-spike-neutralizing peptides (CSNPs) including CSNP1, CSNP2, CSNP3, CSNP4. We could demonstrate in cell culture experiments that CSNP2 binds to S1 at submicromolar concentration and abrogates the S1-hACE2 interaction. CSNP3, a modified and downsized form of CSNP2, could neither interfere with the S1-hACE2 interaction nor bind to S1. CSNP4 exhibited dose-dependent binding to both S1 and hACE2 and abolished the S1-hACE2 interaction in vitro. CSNP4 possibly enhance the mAb-based S1 neutralization by limiting the spontaneous movement of spike receptor-binding domain (RBD), whereas CSNP2 allowed RBD-mAb binding without any steric hindrance. Taken together, we suggest that CSNP2 and CSNP4 are potent and stable candidate peptides that can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 spike and possibly pose the virus to host immune surveillance.
Date: Dec. 30, 2020
Status: Preliminary Report
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