Interactions between heparin and SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein RBD from omicron and other variants

Adrianne L. Gelbach, Fuming Zhang, Seok Joon Kwon, John T. Bates, Andrew P. Farmer, Jonathan S. Dordick, Chunyu Wang, Robert J. Linhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Heparan sulfate (HS) acts as a co-receptor of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) by interacting with severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike glycoprotein (SGP) facilitating host cell entry of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Heparin, a highly sulfated version of heparan sulfate (HS), interacts with a variety of proteins playing key roles in many physiological and pathological processes. In this study, SARS-CoV-2 SGP receptor binding domain (RBD) wild type (WT), Delta and Omicron variants were expressed in Expi293F cells and used in the kinetic and structural analysis on their interactions with heparin. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis showed the binding kinetics of SGP RBD from WT and Delta variants were very similar while Omicron variant SGP showed a much higher association rate. The SGP from Delta and Omicron showed higher affinity (KD) to heparin than the WT SGP. Competition SPR studies using heparin oligosaccharides indicated that binding of SGP RBDs to heparin requires chain length greater than 18. Chemically modified heparin derivatives all showed reduced interactions in competition assays suggesting that all the sulfo groups in the heparin polysaccharide were critical for binding SGP RBDs with heparin. These interactions with heparin are pH sensitive. Acidic pH (pH 6.5, 5.5, 4.5) greatly increased the binding of WT and Delta SGP RBDs to heparin, while acidic pH slightly reduced the binding of Omicron SGP RBD to heparin compared to binding at pH 7.3. In contrast, basic pH (pH 8.5) greatly reduced the binding of Omicron SGP RBDs to heparin, with much less effects on WT or Delta. The pH dependence indicates different charged residues were present at the Omicron SGP-heparin interface. Detailed kinetic and structural analysis of the interactions of SARS-CoV-2 SGP RBDs with heparin provides important information for designing anti-SARS-CoV-2 molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Article number912887
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Biosciences
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • SARS-CoV-2
  • heparan sulfate
  • heparin
  • spike protein RBD
  • surface plasmon resonance

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