Occurrence of a novel cleavage site for cathepsin G adjacent to the polybasic sequence within the proteolytically sensitive activation loop of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant: The amino acid substitution N679K and P681H of the spike protein

Zhadyra Mustafa, Hubert Kalbacher, Timo Burster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The serine proteases neutrophil elastase (NE), proteinase 3 (PR3), cathepsin G (CatG), and neutrophil serine protease 4 (NSP4) are secreted by activated neutrophils as a part of the innate immune response against invading pathogens. However, these serine proteases might be adopted by viruses to mediate viral surface protein priming resulting in host cell entrance and productive infection. Indeed, NE and PR3 hydrolyze the scissile peptide bond within the proteolytically sensitive polybasic sequence of the activation loop of SARS-CoV-2 located at the S1/S2 interface of the Spike (S) protein; an amino acid motif which differs from SARS-CoV-1. The occurrence of novel SARS-CoV-2 variants and substitution of distinct amino acids at the polybasic sequence prompts serious concerns regarding increased transmissibility. We propose that a novel cleavage site by CatG of the Omicron variant and the increased substrate turnover of the Delta variant by furin within the polybasic sequence should be considered for increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0264723
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • COVID-19
  • Cathepsin G/genetics
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2/genetics
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry

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