COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory illness caused by the virus strain severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and until now, there is no effective therapy against COVID-19. Since SARS-CoV-2 binds to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) for entering into host cells, to target COVID-19 from therapeutic angle, we engineered a hexapeptide corresponding to the ACE2-interacting domain of SARS-CoV-2 (AIDS) that inhibits the association between receptor-binding domain-containing spike S1 and ACE-2. Accordingly, wild type (wt), but not mutated (m), AIDS peptide inhibited SARS-CoV-2 spike S1-induced activation of NF-κB and expression of IL-6 in human lungs cells. Interestingly, intranasal intoxication of C57/BL6 mice with recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike S1 led to fever, increase in IL-6 in lungs, infiltration of neutrophils into the lungs, arrhythmias, and impairment in locomotor activities, mimicking some of the important symptoms of COVID-19. However, intranasal treatment with wtAIDS, but not mAIDS, peptide reduced fever, protected lungs, improved heart function, and enhanced locomotor activities in SARS-CoV-2 spike S1-intoxicated mice. Therefore, selective targeting of ACE2-to-SARS-CoV-2 interaction by wtAIDS may be beneficial for COVID-19.
Keywords: ACE-2; Arrhythmias; COVID-19; Fever; Lung inflammation; Spike S1.