Viruses are constantly evolving to promote propagation in the host. Here, we show that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) utilizes host RAD51 for replication. Silencing of RAD51 impaired SARS-CoV-2 propagation. Viral RNA colocalized with RAD51 in the cytoplasm of SARS-CoV-2-infected cells, suggesting that both viral RNA and RAD51 may form a replication complex. We, therefore, evaluated RAD51 inhibitors as possible therapeutic agents against SARS-CoV-2. Indeed, RAD51 inhibitors exerted antiviral activities against not only Wuhan but also variants of SARS-CoV-2. Molecular docking model shows that RAD51 inhibitors impede SARS-CoV-2 propagation by interfering with dimerization of RAD51. These data suggest that RAD51 may represent a novel host-based drug target for coronavirus disease 2019 treatment.
Keywords: COVID-19; RAD51; RAD51 inhibitor; SARS-CoV-2; therapeutic agent.