Excessive inflammatory responses contribute to the pathogenesis and lethality of highly pathogenic human coronaviruses, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. In this study, the N proteins of highly pathogenic human coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), were found to bind MASP-2, a key serine protease in the lectin pathway of complement activation, resulting in excessive complement activation by potentiating MBL-dependent MASP-2 activation, and the deposition of MASP-2, C4b, activated C3 and C5b-9. Aggravated inflammatory lung injury was observed in mice infected with adenovirus expressing the N protein. Complement hyperactivation was also observed in SARS-CoV-2-infected patients. Either blocking the N protein:MASP-2 interaction, MASP-2 depletion or suppressing complement activation can significantly alleviate N protein-induced complement hyperactivation and lung injury in vitro and in vivo. Altogether, these data suggested that complement suppression may represent a novel therapeutic approach for pneumonia induced by these highly pathogenic coronaviruses.

Fuente: Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy

Published: 14 September 2022