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Pharmacological inhibition of bromodomain and extra-terminal proteins induces an NRF-2-mediated antiviral state that is subverted by SARS-CoV-2 infection

Mhlekude, Baxolele, Postmus, Dylan, Stenzel, Saskia, Weiner, January, Jansen, Jenny, Zapatero-Belinchón, Francisco J, Olmer, Ruth, Richter, Anja, Heinze, Julian, Heinemann, Nicolas, Mühlemann, Barbara, Schroeder, Simon, Jones, Terry C, Müller, Marcel A, Drosten, Christian, Pich, Andreas, Thiel, Volker, Martin, Ulrich, Niemeyer, Daniela, Gerold, Gisa, Beule, Dieter and Goffinet, Christine (2023) 'Pharmacological inhibition of bromodomain and extra-terminal proteins induces an NRF-2-mediated antiviral state that is subverted by SARS-CoV-2 infection'. PLoS Pathogens, Vol 19, Issue 9, e1011657.

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Inhibitors of bromodomain and extra-terminal proteins (iBETs), including JQ-1, have been suggested as potential prophylactics against SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, molecular mechanisms underlying JQ-1-mediated antiviral activity and its susceptibility to viral subversion remain incompletely understood. Pretreatment of cells with iBETs inhibited infection by SARS-CoV-2 variants and SARS-CoV, but not MERS-CoV. The antiviral activity manifested itself by reduced reporter expression of recombinant viruses, and reduced viral RNA quantities and infectious titers in the culture supernatant. While we confirmed JQ-1-mediated downregulation of expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), multi-omics analysis addressing the chromatin accessibility, transcriptome and proteome uncovered induction of an antiviral nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF-2)-mediated cytoprotective response as an additional mechanism through which JQ-1 inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication. Pharmacological inhibition of NRF-2, and knockdown of NRF-2 and its target genes reduced JQ-1-mediated inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 replication. Serial passaging of SARS-CoV-2 in the presence of JQ-1 resulted in predominance of ORF6-deficient variant, which exhibited resistance to JQ-1 and increased sensitivity to exogenously administered type I interferon (IFN-I), suggesting a minimised need for SARS-CoV-2 ORF6-mediated repression of IFN signalling in the presence of JQ-1. Importantly, JQ-1 exhibited a transient antiviral activity when administered prophylactically in human airway bronchial epithelial cells (hBAECs), which was gradually subverted by SARS-CoV-2, and no antiviral activity when administered therapeutically following an established infection. We propose that JQ-1 exerts pleiotropic effects that collectively induce an antiviral state in the host, which is ultimately nullified by SARS-CoV-2 infection, raising questions about the clinical suitability of the iBETs in the context of COVID-19.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QU Biochemistry > Proteins. Amino Acids. Peptides > QU 55 Proteins
QV Pharmacology > QV 4 General works
WC Communicable Diseases > Virus Diseases > Viral Respiratory Tract Infections. Respirovirus Infections > WC 506 COVID-19
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Department of Tropical Disease Biology
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2023 09:23
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2023 10:25


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