Agonists or positive allosteric modulators of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor prevent interaction of SARS-Cov-2 receptor-binding domain with astrocytoma cells.

Publication date: Mar 25, 2024

SARS-Cov-2, the virus causing COVID-19, penetrates host target cells via the receptor of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Disrupting the virus interaction with ACE2 affords a plausible mechanism for prevention of cell penetration and inhibiting dissemination of the virus. Our studies demonstrate that ACE2 interaction with the receptor binding domain of SARS-Cov-2 spike protein (RBD) can be impaired by modulating the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) contiguous with ACE2. U373 cells of human astrocytoma origin were shown to bind both ACE2-specific antibody and recombinant RBD in Cell-ELISA. ACE2 was found to interact with α7 nAChR in U373 cell lysates studied by Sandwich ELISA. Our studies demonstrate that inhibition of RBD binding to ACE2-expressing U373 cells were defined with α7 nAChR agonists choline and PNU282987, but not a competitive antagonist methyllicaconitine (MLA). Additionally, the type 2 positive allosteric modulator (PAM2) PNU120596 and hydroxyurea (HU) also inhibited the binding. Our studies demonstrate that activation of α7 AChRs has efficacy in inhibiting the SARS-Cov-2 interaction with the ACE2 receptor and in such a way can prevent virus target cell penetration. These studies also help to clarify the consistent efficacy and positive outcomes for utilizing HU in treating COVID-19.

Concepts Keywords
Agonists ACE2 receptor
Antibody Hydroxyurea
Astrocytoma Receptor-binding domain
Mla SARS-Cov-2
Sandwich α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor


Type Source Name
disease MESH astrocytoma
disease MESH COVID-19
disease IDO host
drug DRUGBANK Angiotensin II
disease IDO cell
drug DRUGBANK Choline
drug DRUGBANK Hydroxyurea

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