Shorter androgen receptor polyQ alleles protect against life-threatening COVID-19 disease in European males.
BACKGROUND While SARS-CoV-2 similarly infects men and women, COVID-19 outcome is less favorable in men. Variability in COVID-19 severity may be explained by differences in the host genome. METHODS We compared poly-amino acids variability from WES data in severely affected COVID-19 patients versus SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive oligo-asymptomatic subjects. FINDINGS Shorter polyQ alleles (≤22) in the androgen receptor (AR) conferred protection against severe outcome in COVID-19 in the first tested cohort (both males and females) of 638 Italian subjects. The association between long polyQ alleles (≥23) and severe clinical outcome (p = 0.024) was also validated in an independent cohort of Spanish men <60 years of age (p = 0.014). Testosterone was higher in subjects with AR long-polyQ, possibly indicating receptor resistance (p = 0.042 Mann-Whitney U test). Inappropriately low serum testosterone level among carriers of the long-polyQ alleles (p = 0.0004 Mann-Whitney U test) predicted the need for intensive care in COVID-19 infected men. In agreement with the known anti-inflammatory action of testosterone, patients with long-polyQ and age ≥60 years had increased levels of CRP (p = 0.018, not accounting for multiple testing). INTERPRETATION We identify the first genetic polymorphism that appears to predispose some men to develop more severe disease. Failure of the endocrine feedback to overcome AR signaling defects by increasing testosterone levels during the infection leads to the polyQ tract becoming dominant to serum testosterone levels for the clinical outcome. These results may contribute to designing reliable clinical and public health measures and provide a rationale to test testosterone as adjuvant therapy in men with COVID-19 expressing long AR polyQ repeats. FUNDING MIUR project "Dipartimenti di Eccellenza 2018-2020" to Department of Medical Biotechnologies University of Siena, Italy (Italian D.L. n.18 March 17, 2020) and "Bando Ricerca COVID-19 Toscana" project to Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Senese. Private donors for COVID-19 research and charity funds from Intesa San Paolo.
Probiotics-Derived Peptides and Their Immunomodulatory Molecules Can Play a Preventive Role Against Viral Diseases Including COVID-19.
Probiotics and antimicrobial proteins. 2021;(3):611-623
As of recent, the pandemic episode of COVID-19, a severe acute respiratory syndrome brought about by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) expanding the pace of mortality, has affected the disease rate profoundly. Invulnerability is the fundamental choice to prevent the ruining event of COVID-19, as the drugs and antibodies are in the phase of preliminary clinical trials. Within this brief period, a few strains of SARS-CoV-2 have been recognized by the vaccine manufacturers, which could be an incorrect guess about the strain that will end up spreading. Since the circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains continue to mutate, immunizations, if at all works, might be for a restricted time. We have not put sufficient time in research to understand the immune responses that correlate with protection as this could help refine vaccines. Here, we have summed up the adequacy of the immunomodulatory component of probiotics for the prevention against viral infections. Furthermore, an in silico data have been provided in support of the "probiotics-derived lipopeptides" role in inactivating spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 and its host receptor molecule, ACE2. Among well characterized lipopeptides derived from different probiotic strains, subtilisin (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens), curvacin A (Lactobacillus curvatus), sakacin P (Lactobacillus sakei), lactococcin Gb (Lactococcus lactis) was utilized in this study to demonstrate a higher binding proclivity to S-protein of SARS-CoV-2 and human ACE2. The outcome revealed noteworthy capabilities of the lipopeptides, due to their amphiphilic nature, to bind spike protein and receptor molecule, which may act to competitively inhibit the mandatory interaction of SARS-CoV-2 with the host epithelial cell expressing ACE2 for its entry into the cell for reproduction. In the current situation, probiotic treatment alongside chemotherapy may assist in bringing about substantial improvement of the health of COVID-19 patients. At the same time, probiotics may aid towards building up the immune defenses in people to evade COVID-19.
Potential chimeric peptides to block the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain.
Background: There are no known medicines or vaccines to control the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 (nCoV). Antiviral peptides are superior to conventional drugs and may also be effective against COVID-19. Hence, we investigated the SARS-CoV-2 Spike receptor-binding domain (nCoV-RBD) that interacts with hACE2 for viral attachment and entry. Methods: Three strategies and bioinformatics approaches were employed to design potential nCoV-RBD - hACE2 interaction-blocking peptides that may restrict viral attachment and entry. Firstly, the key residues interacting with nCoV-RBD - hACE2 are identified and hACE2 sequence-based peptides are designed. Second, peptides from five antibacterial peptide databases that block nCoV-RBD are identified; finally, a chimeric peptide design approach is used to design peptides that can bind to key nCoV-RBD residues. The final peptides are selected based on their physiochemical properties, numbers and positions of key residues binding, binding energy, and antiviral properties. Results: We found that: (i) three amino acid stretches in hACE2 interact with nCoV-RBD; (ii) effective peptides must bind to three key positions of nCoV-RBD (Gly485/Phe486/Asn487, Gln493, and Gln498/Thr500/Asn501); (iii) Phe486, Gln493, and Asn501 are critical residues; (iv) AC20 and AC23 derived from hACE2 may block two key critical positions; (iv) DBP6 identified from databases can block the three sites of the nCoV-RBD and interacts with one critical position, Gln498; (v) seven chimeric peptides were considered promising, among which cnCoVP-3, cnCoVP-4, and cnCoVP-7 are the top three; and (vi) cnCoVP-4 meets all the criteria and is the best peptide. Conclusions: To conclude, using three different bioinformatics approaches, we identified 17 peptides that can potentially bind to the nCoV-RBD that interacts with hACE2. Binding these peptides to nCoV-RBD may potentially inhibit the virus to access hACE2 and thereby may prevent the infection. Out of 17, 10 peptides have promising potential and need further experimental validation.