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Nucleocapsid and Spike Proteins of SARS-CoV-2 Drive Neutrophil Extracellular Trap Formation.
Immune Network  (IF6.303),  Pub Date : 2021-02-23, DOI: 10.4110/in.2021.21.e16
Young-Jin Youn, Yu-Bin Lee, Sun-Hwa Kim, Hee Kyung Jin, Jae-Sung Bae, Chang-Won Hong

Patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) demonstrate dysregulated immune responses including exacerbated neutrophil functions. Massive neutrophil infiltrations accompanying neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formations are also observed in patients with severe COVID-19. However, the mechanism underlying severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-induced NET formation has not yet been elucidated. Here we show that 2 viral proteins encoded by SARS-CoV-2, the nucleocapsid protein and the whole spike protein, induce NET formation from neutrophils. NET formation was ROS-independent and was completely inhibited by the spleen tyrosine kinase inhibition. The inhibition of p38 MAPK, protein kinase C, and JNK signaling pathways also inhibited viral protein-induced NET formation. Our findings demonstrate one method by which SARS-CoV-2 evades innate immunity and provide a potential target for therapeutics to treat patients with severe COVID-19.