Application of Biophysical and Chemical Engineering Principles for Understanding Molecular Scale Interactions Critical to Virus Entry and Infection of Its Host
- Type: Conference Presentation
- Conference Type: AIChE Annual Meeting
- Presentation Date: November 18, 2020
- Duration: 19 minutes
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- PDHs: 0.30
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has focused attention on the need to develop effective therapies against the causative agent, SARS-CoV-2, and also against other pathogenic coronaviruses (CoV) that have emerged in the past or might appear in future. Focusing on steps in the CoV replication cycle, in particular the entry steps involving membrane fusion that are vulnerable to inhibition by broad-spectrum or specific antiviral agents, is an astute choice because of the conserved nature of the fusion machinery and mechanism across the CoV family. For coronavirus, entry into a host cell is mediated by a single glycoprotein protruding from its membrane envelope, called spike (S). Within S, the region that directly interacts with the membrane is called the fusion peptide, FP. It is the physico-chemical interactions of the FP with the host membrane that anchors it, thus enabling the necessary deformations of the membrane that lead to delivery of the viral genome into the cell when a fusion pore opens. As chemical engineers, we contribute to this fundamental work by leveraging our understanding of thermodynamics, kinetics, and intermolecular interactions to describe FP interactions with the host membrane at the most fundamental molecular level to facilitate the development of strategies to limit those interactions to stop the spread of infection. In this talk, I will describe our work on understanding the impact of calcium ions on CoV infection. Using cell infectivity, biophysical assays, and spectroscopic methods, we found that calcium ions serve to stabilize the fusion peptide structure during conformational change that then allows its insertion into the host membrane, resulting in increased lipid ordering in the membrane. This lipid ordering precedes membrane fusion and has been shown to correlate with increased fusion activity, as higher extents of fusion are observed as calcium concentration increases, aligned with higher levels of infection in the presence of calcium. Finally, depletion of calcium ions leads to structure and activity changes that correlate well with in vitro experiments using calcium-chelating drugs. Under these conditions, cell infection dropped, pointing to the possibility of such drugs as therapeutic interventions.
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|AIChE Member Credits||0.5|
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|AIChE Undergraduate Student Members||Free|