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    Biochemical and structural analyses suggest that SARS-CoV-2 is well-adapted to infecting humans and the presence of four residues (PRRA) at the S1/S2 site within the spike (S) protein, which may lead to unexpected tissue or host tropism. Here we report that SARS-CoV-2 efficiently utilized ACE2 of 9 species to infect 293T cells. Similarly, pseudoviruses bearing S protein derived from either the bat RaTG13 or pangolin GX, two closely related animal coronaviruses, utilized ACE2 of a diverse range of animal species to gain entry. Removal of PRRA from SARS-CoV-2 S protein displayed distinct effects on pseudoviral entry into different cell types. Unexpectedly, insertion of PRRA into the RaTG13 S protein selectively abrogated the usage of horseshoe bat and pangolin ACE2 but enhanced the usage of mouse ACE2 by the relevant pseudovirus to enter cells. Together, our findings identified a previously unrecognized effect of the PRRA insert on SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 S proteins.ImportanceThe four-residue insert (PRRA) at the boundary between the S1and S2 subunits of SARS-CoV-2 has been widely recognized since day 1 for its role in SARS-CoV-2 S protein processing and activation. As this PRRA insert is unique to SARS-CoV-2 among group b betacoronaviruses, it is thought to affect the tissue and species tropism of SARS-CoV-2. We compared the usage of 10 ACE2 orthologs and found that the presence of PRRA not only affects the cellular tropism of SARS-CoV-2 but also modulates the usage of ACE2 orthologs by the closely related bat RaTG13 S protein. The binding of pseudovirions carrying RaTG13 S with a PRRA insert to mouse ACE2 was nearly 2-fold higher than that of pseudovirions carrying RaTG13 S.


    Shufeng Liu, Prabhuanand Selvaraj, Christopher Z Lien, Ivette A Nunez, Wells W Wu, Chao-Kai Chou, Tony T Wang. The PRRA insert at the S1/S2 site modulates cellular tropism of SARS-CoV-2 and ACE2 usage by the closely related Bat RaTG13. Journal of virology. 2021 May 10;95(11)

    PMID: 33685917

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