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TMPRSS2 promotes SARS-CoV-2 evasion from NCOA7-mediated restriction

By Hataf Khan, Helena Winstone, Jose M Jimenez-Guardeno, Carl Graham, Katie Doores, Caroline Goujon, David Matthews, Andrew Davidson, Suzannah Rihn, Massimo Palmarini, Stuart Neil, Michael Malim

Posted 23 Jul 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.23.453488

Interferons play a critical role in regulating host immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, but the interferon (IFN)-stimulated gene (ISG) effectors that inhibit SARS-CoV-2 are not well characterized. The IFN-inducible short isoform of human nuclear receptor coactivator 7 (NCOA7) inhibits endocytic virus entry, interacts with the vacuolar ATPase, and promotes endo-lysosomal vesicle acidification and lysosomal protease activity. Here, we used ectopic expression and gene knockout to demonstrate that NCOA7 inhibits infection by SARS-CoV-2 as well as by lentivirus particles pseudotyped with SARS-CoV-2 Spike in lung epithelial cells. Infection with the highly pathogenic, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV, or seasonal, HCoV-229E and HCoV-NL63, coronavirus Spike-pseudotyped viruses was also inhibited by NCOA7. Importantly, either overexpression of TMPRSS2, which promotes plasma membrane fusion versus endosomal fusion of SARS-CoV-2, or removal of Spikes polybasic furin cleavage site rendered SARS-CoV-2 less sensitive to NCOA7 restriction. Collectively, our data indicate that furin cleavage sensitizes SARS-CoV-2 Spike to the antiviral consequences of endosomal acidification by NCOA7, and suggest that the acquisition of furin cleavage may have favoured the co-option of cell surface TMPRSS proteases as a strategy to evade the suppressive effects of IFN-induced endo-lysosomal dysregulation on virus infection.

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