• Multiple Recombination Events and Strong Purifying Selection at the Origin of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein Increased Correlated Dynamic Movements

      Tagliamonte, Massimiliano S.; Abid, Nabil; Borocci, Stefano; Sangiovanni, Elisa; Ostrov, David A.; Pond, Sergei; Salemi, Marco; Chillemi, Giovanni; Mavian, Carla; Pond|0000-0003-4817-4029 (2020-12-23)
      Our evolutionary and structural analyses revealed that the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike gene is a complex mosaic resulting from several recombination events. Additionally, the fixation of variants has mainly been driven by purifying selection, suggesting the presence of conserved structural features. Our dynamic simulations identified two main long-range covariant dynamic movements of the novel glycoprotein, and showed that, as a result of the evolutionary duality, they are preserved. The first movement involves the receptor binding domain with the N-terminal domain and the C-terminal domain 2 and is maintained across human, bat and pangolin coronaviruses. The second is a complex network of long-range dynamics specific to SARS-CoV-2 involving the novel PRRA and the conserved KR*SF cleavage sites, as well as conserved segments in C-terminal domain 3. These movements, essential for host cell binding, are maintained by hinges conserved across human, bat, and pangolin coronaviruses glycoproteins. The hinges, located around Threonine 333 and Proline 527 within the N-terminal domain and C-terminal domain 2, represent candidate targets for the future development of novel pan-coronavirus inhibitors. In summary, we show that while recombination created a new configuration that increased the covariant dynamic movements of the SARS-CoV-2 glycoprotein, negative selection preserved its inter-domain structure throughout evolution in different hosts and inter-species transmissions.
    • SARS-CoV-2, ACE2, and Hydroxychloroquine: Cardiovascular Complications, Therapeutics, and Clinical Readouts in the Current Settings

      Center for Translational Medicine (Temple University) (2020-07-07)
      The rapidly evolving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2- SARS-CoV-2), has greatly burdened the global healthcare system and led it into crisis in several countries. Lack of targeted therapeutics led to the idea of repurposing broad-spectrum drugs for viral intervention. In vitro analyses of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)’s anecdotal benefits prompted its widespread clinical repurposing globally. Reports of emerging cardiovascular complications due to its clinical prescription are revealing the crucial role of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which serves as a target receptor for SARS-CoV-2. In the present settings, a clear understanding of these targets, their functional aspects and physiological impact on cardiovascular function are critical. In an up-to-date format, we shed light on HCQ’s anecdotal function in stalling SARS-CoV-2 replication and immunomodulatory activities. While starting with the crucial role of ACE2, we here discuss the impact of HCQ on systemic cardiovascular function, its associated risks, and the scope of HCQ-based regimes in current clinical settings. Citing the extent of HCQ efficacy, the key considerations and recommendations for the use of HCQ in clinics are further discussed. Taken together, this review provides crucial insights into the role of ACE2 in SARS-CoV-2-led cardiovascular activity, and concurrently assesses the efficacy of HCQ in contemporary clinical settings.