Determinants of Coronavirus Fidelity in Replication and Pathogenesis

  • Funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Total publications:0 publications

Grant number: unknown

Grant search

Key facts

  • Disease

  • Start & end year

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United States of America, Americas
  • Lead Research Institution

    Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Research Category

    Pathogen: natural history, transmission and diagnostics

  • Research Subcategory

    Pathogen morphology, shedding & natural history

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Not Applicable

  • Vulnerable Population

    Not applicable

  • Occupations of Interest

    Not applicable


Summary: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (COVID-19) threatens the entire world's health, economy and socialstability and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The capacity of this virus to cause proteanmanifestations and resist public health control demonstrates its profound evolutionary and adaptive capacity.We have studied the experimental evolution and determinants of fidelity and adaptation of CoVs for more than20 years. The parent grant (R01 AI108197) for this proposed supplement defines the determinants of CoVreplicase proteins in virus fidelity and pathogenesis, and is specifically directed toward understanding the role ofthe unique CoV exoribonuclease encoded in nonstructural protein 14 (nsp14-ExoN). Using SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and MHV, we have shown that nsp14-ExoN mediates RNA proofreading and is responsible for: i) CoV highfidelity replication; ii) resistance to nucleoside analog inhibitors; iii) virus fitness; iv) evasion of host immunity;and v) virulence in vivo. Engineered mutants of MHV and SARS-CoV lacking ExoN (ExoN(-)) are impaired in allof the above functions and thus define ExoN as an exceptionally conserved and vulnerable virus encoded targetfor inhibition and attenuation. In this administrative supplement, we propose in vitro and in vivo studies of SARS-CoV-2 nsp14-ExoN, with the long-term goal define its role in virus replication and as a target for inhibitors andattenuation. We will rescue SARS-CoV-2 mutants of nsp14-ExoN and define their impact on replication anddisease. In Aim 1, we will introduce mutations into SARS-CoV-2CoV-2 nsp14-ExoN that are known in SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and/or MHV to abolish proofreading, alter nucleoside analog sensitivity, impact virusreplication and fitness, or decrease virulence. Recovered viruses will be tested for these phenotypes. In Aim 2,we will select replication-competent ExoN mutants with defined phenotypes for testing in highly relevant humanairway epithelial (HAE) cultures and in a mouse model for SARS-CoV-2 replication and disease. The long-standing and highly productive collaboration between the Denison and Baric labs has already resulted indevelopment of SARS-CoV-2 reverse genetics, initial analysis SARS-CoV-2 recombination, and potential animalmodels, all of which, in combination with our established bioinformatics pipelines, will allow rapid progress onthe proposed supplement aims and will provide data for longer-term detailed studies of the role of ExoN and theviral polymerase. The significance and urgency of these studies is high, as they will rapidly result in identificationof nsp14-ExoN targets for small molecule inhibitors and multiple pathways to stable and universal attenuation ofSARS-CoV-2 and future zoonotic CoVs.