A protein produced by the human immune system can potently inhibit several coronaviruses, including the one behind the current COVID-19 outbreak, an international team of investigators reported in a non-peer-reviewed article on March 8, 2020. The research reveals that the interferon-inducible lymphocyte antigen 6 complex, locus E protein (LY6E) impairs the coronavirus’ ability to initiate infection, which could lead to treatments for the illness. Mechanistic studies revealed that LY6E inhibits CoV entry into cells by interfering with spike protein-mediated membrane fusion. Strikingly, mice lacking Ly6e (the mouse version of the gene) were highly susceptible to a usually nonlethal mouse coronavirus, the researchers reported on March 8, 2020 in bioRxiv, an online preprint server that posts articles prior to peer review. The bioRxiv open-access article is titled “LY6E Impairs Coronavirus Fusion and Confers Immune Control of Viral Disease.” (Editor’s note: It should be emphasized that bioRxiv is receiving many new papers on coronavirus 2019-nCoV. A reminder: these are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. bioRxiv emphasizes that these articles should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information). “Remarkably, this potent inhibitory effect carried over to all the coronaviruses we tested, including those responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2003, the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in 2012, and the recently emerged causative agent of COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2,” says John Schoggins, PhD, an Associate Professor of Microbiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and one of three corresponding authors on the report.
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