"Pan-coronavirus" antivirals targeting conserved viral components can be designed. Here, we show that the rationally engineered H84T-banana lectin (H84T-BanLec), which specifically recognizes high mannose found on viral proteins but seldom on healthy human cells, potently inhibits Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (including Omicron), and other human-pathogenic coronaviruses at nanomolar concentrations. H84T-BanLec protects against MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infection in vivo. Importantly, intranasally and intraperitoneally administered H84T-BanLec are comparably effective. Mechanistic assays show that H84T-BanLec targets virus entry. High-speed atomic force microscopy depicts real-time multimolecular associations of H84T-BanLec dimers with the SARS-CoV-2 spike trimer. Single-molecule force spectroscopy demonstrates binding of H84T-BanLec to multiple SARS-CoV-2 spike mannose sites with high affinity and that H84T-BanLec competes with SARS-CoV-2 spike for binding to cellular ACE2. Modeling experiments identify distinct high-mannose glycans in spike recognized by H84T-BanLec. The multiple H84T-BanLec binding sites on spike likely account for the drug compound's broad-spectrum antiviral activity and the lack of resistant mutants.
Keywords: MERS-CoV; SARS-CoV-2; antiviral; atomic force microscopy; banana; coronavirus; lectin; single-molecule force spectroscopy; spike; treatment.
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