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Synthetic peptides outside the spike protein heptad repeat regions as potent inhibitors of SARS-associated coronavirus



Synthetic peptides outside the spike protein heptad repeat regions as potent inhibitors of SARS-associated coronavirus



Antiviral Therapy 10(3): 393-403



A novel severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has been identified as the aetiological agent of SARS. We previously isolated and characterized SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-like viruses from human and animals, respectively, suggesting that SARS could be transmitted from wild/farmed animals to humans. Comparison of the viral genomes indicated that sequence variation between animal and human isolates existed mainly in the spike (S) gene. We hypothesized that these variations may underlie a change of binding specificity of the S protein to the host cells, permitting viral transmission from animals to humans. Here we report that four 20-mer synthetic peptides (S protein fragments), designed to span these sequence variation hotspots, exhibited significant antiviral activities in a cell line. SARS-CoV infectivity was reduced over 10 000-fold through pre-incubation with two of these peptides, while it was completely inhibited in the presence of three peptides. Molecular modelling of the SARS-CoV peplomer suggests that three of these antiviral peptides map to the interfaces between the three monomers of the trimeric peplomer rather than the heptad repeat region from which short peptides are known to inhibit viral entry. Our results revealed novel regions in the spike protein that can be targeted to inhibit viral infection. The peptides identified in this study could be further developed into antiviral drugs.

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Accession: 050489885

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PMID: 15918330


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