The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has continuously evolved, resulting in the emergence of several variants of concern (VOCs). To study mechanisms of viral entry and potentially identify specific inhibitors, we pseudotyped lentiviral vectors with different SARS-CoV-2 VOC spike variants (D614G, Alpha, Beta, Delta, Omicron), responsible for receptor binding and membrane fusion. These SARS-CoV-2 lentiviral pseudoviruses were used to screen 774 FDA-approved drugs. For the assay we decided to use CaCo2 cells that equally allow cell entry through both the direct membrane fusion pathway mediated by TMPRSS2 and the endocytosis pathway mediated by cathepsin-L. The active molecules which showed stronger differences in their potency to inhibit certain SARS-CoV-2 VOCs included antagonists of G-protein coupled receptors, like phenothiazine-derived antipsychotic compounds such as Chlorpromazine, with highest activity against the Omicron pseudovirus. In general, our data showed that the various VOCs differ in their preferences for cell entry, and we were able to identify synergistic combinations of inhibitors. Notably, Omicron singled out by relying primarily on the endocytosis pathway while Delta preferred cell entry via membrane fusion. In conclusion, our data provide new insights in different entry preferences of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs, which might help to identify new drug targets.

Fuente: Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
Available online 16 May 2022, 113104