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Green tea and Spirulina extracts inhibit SARS, MERS, and SARS-2 spike pseudotyped virus entry in vitro
bioRxiv - Microbiology  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-06-23, DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.20.162701
Jeswin Joseph, Karthika Thankamani, Ariya Ajay, Valiyathara Rajan Akshay Das, Victor Stalin Raj

Coronaviruses (CoVs) infect a wide range of animals and birds. Their tropism is primarily determined by the ability of the spike (S) protein to bind to a host cell surface receptor. The rapid outbreak of emerging novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV 2 in China inculcates the need for the development of hasty and effective intervention strategies. Medicinal plants and natural compounds have been traditionally used to treat viral infections. Here, we generated VSV based pseudotyped viruses (pvs) of SARS-, MERS-, and SARS-2 CoVs to screen entry inhibitors from natural products. In the first series of experiments, we demonstrated that pseudotyped viruses specifically bind on their receptors and enter into the cells. SARS and MERS polyclonal antibodies neutralize SARSpv and SARS-2pv, and MERSpv respectively. Incubation of soluble ACE2 inhibited entry of SARS and SARS-2 pvs but not MERSpv. In addition, expression of ACE2 and DPP4 in non-permissive BHK21 cells enabled infection by SARSpv, SARS-2pv, and MERSpv respectively. Next, we showed the antiviral properties of known enveloped virus entry inhibitors, Spirulina and Green tea extracts against CoVpvs. SARSpv, MERSpv, and SARS-2pv entry were blocked with higher efficiency when preincubated with either green tea or spirulina extracts. Green tea provided a better inhibitory effect than the spirulina extracts by binding to the S1 domain of spike and blocking the interaction of spike with its receptor. Further studies are required to understand the exact mechanism of viral inhibition. In summary, we demonstrate that pseudotyped virus is an ideal tool for screening viral entry inhibitors. Moreover, spirulina and green tea could be promising antiviral agents against emerging viruses.