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Mutating novel interaction sites in NRP1 reduces SARS-CoV-2 spike protein internalization...

by Debjani Pal, Kuntal De, Timothy B Yates, Jaydeep Kolape, Wellington Muchero
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The global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus has become a severe global health problem because of its rapid spread. Both Ace2 and NRP1 provide initial viral binding sites for SARS-CoV-2. Here, we show that cysteine residues located in the vestigial plasminogen-apple-nematode (PAN) domain of NRP1 are necessary for SARS-CoV-2 spike protein internalization. Mutating novel cysteine residues in the PAN altered NRP1 stability and downstream activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway and impaired its interaction with the spike protein. This resulted in a significant reduction in spike protein abundance in Vero-E6 cells for the original, alpha, and delta SARS-CoV-2 variants even in the presence of the Ace2. Moreover, mutating these cysteine residues in NRP1 significantly lowered its association with Plexin-A1. As the spike protein is a critical component for targeted therapy, our biochemical study may represent a distinct mechanism to develop a path for future therapeutic discovery.