Monday, 29 June 2020 15:24

Infection mechanism: coronavirus can infect neighbouring cells via filipodia Featured

An American research team from the University of California has observed in vitro that cells infected with SARS-CoV2 can infect their neighbors with the coronavirus via filipodia - thread-like protuberances of the cells - before they are eliminated by the immune system.

The viral RNA produced by the host gene apparatus is not only released via exocytosis, but the virus also promotes the activation of the host's own casein kinase II (CK2). The infection, shown in cell experiments, also triggers the production of CK2-containing filopodia in which virus particles were found. Via this route, neighboring cells can be infected.

 In order to determine how SARS-CoV-2 uses host protein signaling for itself, a phospho-proteomics experiment was conducted in a Vero E6 cell line. This is a cell line from the kidney of a female African green monkey that is particularly vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Using a modern mass spectrometry-based proteomics method, the proteins present in the cells at a given time were analyzed and examined for changes in protein frequency or phosphorylation.

Thus, SARS-CoV-2 infection promotes, among other things, the activation of a certain subtype of a serine/threonine protein kinase, casein kinase II (CK2). This also occurred in the filopodia induced by the virus, which possessed virus particles.

The scientists hope to find a therapeutic target by inhibiting CK2. Certain pharmaceutical substances against cancer might play a role. They are currently in the clinical phase.

Original paper:
Bouhaddou, Memon, Meyer et al. (2020). The Global Phosphorylation Landscape of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Cell journal pre-proof. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.034