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A Fluorogenic Peptide Cleavage Assay to Screen for Proteolytic Activity: Applications for coronavirus spike protein activation



A Fluorogenic Peptide Cleavage Assay to Screen for Proteolytic Activity: Applications for coronavirus spike protein activation



Journal of Visualized Experiments 2019(143):



Enveloped viruses such as coronaviruses or influenza virus require proteolytic cleavage of their fusion protein to be able to infect the host cell. Often viruses exhibit cell and tissue tropism and are adapted to specific cell or tissue proteases. Moreover, these viruses can introduce mutations or insertions into their genome during replication that may affect the cleavage, and thus can contribute to adaptations to a new host. Here, we present a fluorogenic peptide cleavage assay that allows a rapid screening of peptides mimicking the cleavage site of viral fusion proteins. The technique is very flexible and can be used to investigate the proteolytic activity of a single protease on many different substrates, and in addition, it also allows exploration of the activity of multiple proteases on one or more peptide substrates. In this study, we used peptides mimicking the cleavage site motifs of the coronavirus spike protein. We tested human and camel derived Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronaviruses (MERS-CoV) to demonstrate that single and double substitutions in the cleavage site can alter the activity of furin and dramatically change cleavage efficiency. We also used this method in combination with bioinformatics to test furin cleavage activity of feline coronavirus spike proteins from different serotypes and strains. This peptide-based method is less labor- and time intensive than conventional methods used for the analysis of proteolytic activity for viruses, and results can be obtained within a single day.

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Accession: 066128948

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PMID: 30688313


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