SARS-CoV-2 Omicron entry is type II transmembrane serine protease-mediated in human airway and intestinal organoid models

Anna Z Mykytyn, Tim I Breugem, Maarten H Geurts, Joep Beumer, Debby Schipper, Romy van Acker, Petra B van den Doel, Martin E van Royen, Jingshu Zhang, Hans Clevers, Bart L Haagmans, Mart M Lamers

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

SARS-CoV-2 can enter cells after its spike protein is cleaved by either type II transmembrane serine proteases (TTSPs), like TMPRSS2, or cathepsins. It is now widely accepted that the Omicron variant uses TMPRSS2 less efficiently and instead enters cells via cathepsins, but these findings have yet to be verified in more relevant cell models. Although we could confirm efficient cathepsin-mediated entry for Omicron in a monkey kidney cell line, experiments with protease inhibitors showed that Omicron (BA.1 and XBB1.5) did not use cathepsins for entry into human airway organoids and instead utilized TTSPs. Likewise, CRISPR-edited intestinal organoids showed that entry of Omicron BA.1 relied on the expression of the serine protease TMPRSS2 but not cathepsin L or B. Together, these data force us to rethink the concept that Omicron has adapted to cathepsin-mediated entry and indicate that TTSP inhibitors should not be dismissed as prophylactic or therapeutic antiviral strategy against SARS-CoV-2. IMPORTANCE Coronavirus entry relies on host proteases that activate the viral fusion protein, spike. These proteases determine the viral entry route, tropism, host range, and can be attractive drug targets. Whereas earlier studies using cell lines suggested that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has changed its protease usage, from cell surface type II transmembrane serine proteases (TTSPs) to endosomal cathepsins, we report that this is not the case in human airway and intestinal organoid models, suggesting that host TTSP inhibition is still a viable prophylactic or therapeutic antiviral strategy against current SARS-CoV-2 variants and highlighting the importance of relevant human in vitro cell models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0085123
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume97
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Antiviral Agents
  • COVID-19/virology
  • SARS-CoV-2/physiology
  • Serine Proteases/metabolism
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
  • Virus Internalization

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