People with cystic fibrosis should be considered at increased risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. Strikingly, a broad array of evidence shows reduced spread of SARS-CoV-2 in these subjects, suggesting a potential role for CFTR in the regulation of SARS-CoV-2 infection/replication. Here, we analyzed SARS-CoV-2 replication in wild-type and CFTR-modified human bronchial epithelial cell lines and primary cells to investigate SARS-CoV-2 infection in people with cystic fibrosis. Both immortalized and primary human bronchial epithelial cells expressing wt or F508del-CFTR along with CRISPR/Cas9 CFTR-ablated clones were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and samples were harvested before and from 24 to 72 h post-infection. CFTR function was also inhibited in wt-CFTR cells with the CFTR-specific inhibitor IOWH-032 and partially restored in F508del-CFTR cells with a combination of CFTR modulators (VX-661+VX-445). Viral load was evaluated by real-time RT-PCR in both supernatant and cell extracts, and ACE-2 expression was analyzed by both western blotting and flow cytometry. SARS-CoV-2 replication was reduced in CFTR-modified bronchial cells compared with wild-type cell lines. No major difference in ACE-2 expression was detected before infection between wild-type and CFTR-modified cells, while a higher expression in wild-type compared to CFTR-modified cells was detectable at 72 h post-infection. Furthermore, inhibition of CFTR channel function elicited significant inhibition of viral replication in cells with wt-CFTR, and correction of CFTR function in F508del-CFTR cells increased the release of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles. Our study provides evidence that CFTR expression/function is involved in the regulation of SARS-CoV-2 replication, thus providing novel insights into the role of CFTR in SARS-CoV-2 infection and the development of therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.

CFTR Modulation Reduces SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells

Lotti, Virginia
;
Merigo, Flavia;Lagni, Anna;Di Clemente, Andrea;Ligozzi, Marco;Bernardi, Paolo;Concia, Ercole;Sbarbati, Andrea;Sorio, Claudio;Gibellini, Davide
2022

Abstract

People with cystic fibrosis should be considered at increased risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. Strikingly, a broad array of evidence shows reduced spread of SARS-CoV-2 in these subjects, suggesting a potential role for CFTR in the regulation of SARS-CoV-2 infection/replication. Here, we analyzed SARS-CoV-2 replication in wild-type and CFTR-modified human bronchial epithelial cell lines and primary cells to investigate SARS-CoV-2 infection in people with cystic fibrosis. Both immortalized and primary human bronchial epithelial cells expressing wt or F508del-CFTR along with CRISPR/Cas9 CFTR-ablated clones were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and samples were harvested before and from 24 to 72 h post-infection. CFTR function was also inhibited in wt-CFTR cells with the CFTR-specific inhibitor IOWH-032 and partially restored in F508del-CFTR cells with a combination of CFTR modulators (VX-661+VX-445). Viral load was evaluated by real-time RT-PCR in both supernatant and cell extracts, and ACE-2 expression was analyzed by both western blotting and flow cytometry. SARS-CoV-2 replication was reduced in CFTR-modified bronchial cells compared with wild-type cell lines. No major difference in ACE-2 expression was detected before infection between wild-type and CFTR-modified cells, while a higher expression in wild-type compared to CFTR-modified cells was detectable at 72 h post-infection. Furthermore, inhibition of CFTR channel function elicited significant inhibition of viral replication in cells with wt-CFTR, and correction of CFTR function in F508del-CFTR cells increased the release of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles. Our study provides evidence that CFTR expression/function is involved in the regulation of SARS-CoV-2 replication, thus providing novel insights into the role of CFTR in SARS-CoV-2 infection and the development of therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.
ACE-2; CFTR; CFTR inhibitor; SARS-CoV-2 virus; cystic fibrosis; human bronchial epithelial cell
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1062739
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