Decoy ACE2 receptors broadly neutralize SARS-CoV-2 variants

Beforehand, researchers have developed decoy receptor proteins to fight the issue of viruses escaping the host immune response. The principle concept behind this technique is that viruses can not resist binding to the decoy receptors as a substitute of the host receptor through the invasion.

Probably the most frequent human receptors used for coronavirus cell entry is the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. The extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), for instance, which is the causal agent of the present coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, makes use of the ACE2 receptor to achieve entry into host cells.

Study: Engineering ACE2 decoy receptors to combat viral escapability. Image Credit: Design_Cells /

Research: Engineering ACE2 decoy receptors to combat viral escapability. Picture Credit score: Design_Cells /

Thus, scientists are extraordinarily curious about analyzing soluble ACE2 as a possible candidate for a decoy receptor towards coronaviruses. In a latest Trends in Pharmacological Science journal study, researchers evaluate present developments in preclinical research related to recombinant ACE2 decoy receptors towards coronaviruses.


The receptor binding area (RBD) current within the S1 area of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor of the host cell. Subsequently, the S2 area promotes membrane fusion, thus permitting the viral genome to enter the host cell. To this point, all accessible COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics have been designed towards the spike protein of the ancestral SAS-CoV-2 pressure. 

The emergence of a number of SARS-CoV-2 variants because of genomic mutations has lowered the efficacy of accessible COVID-19 vaccines. A few of these strains, such because the Delta and Omicron variants, are able to escaping the immune responses generated by vaccination or pure an infection. Thus, there stays an pressing want for various pharmaceutical methods to handle the rising difficulty of viruses like SARS-CoV-2 decreasing the efficacy of or escaping accessible therapeutics.

Concerning the examine

Within the present examine, scientists assess using engineered ACE2 decoy in its place method to fight issues associated to SARS-CoV-2 genomic evolutions. These receptors can neutralize viruses in a fashion that’s extraordinarily efficient towards virus escapability.

Beforehand, decoy receptors have been utilized to manage angiogenesis and autoimmune illnesses. Among the most notable decoy receptors to be developed embrace these primarily based on cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen‐4 (CTLA4), vascular endothelial development issue receptor (VEGFR), or tumor necrosis issue receptor (TNFR). Beforehand, recombinant human soluble ACE2 (rhACE2) was developed as an anti-inflammatory drug for the therapy of acute respiratory misery syndrome (ARDS).

One latest examine reported that every one virus cultures, together with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant and sarbecoviruses, handled with a dilute focus of ACE2 decoy receptors, remained delicate to the therapy. In the course of the present pandemic, many analysis teams have independently designed affinity-enhancing mutations to fuse the human Fc area of immunoglobulins with soluble ACE2 to boost the pharmacokinetics of antivirals and, because of this, their neutralization efficacy.

Scientific research associated to the appliance of rhACE2 in each wholesome volunteers and ARDS sufferers have proven no useful adjustments with respect to acute medical outcomes. Nonetheless, each examine teams confirmed no antagonistic response to the drug.

The effectiveness of rhACE2 as a decoy receptor has additionally been assessed for COVID-19 therapy. To this finish, Section II medical trials have demonstrated that this intravenous therapy didn’t enhance the medical consequence of COVID-19 hospitalized sufferers. Nonetheless, small enhancements have been reported in pulmonary fuel trade effectivity.

As a result of rhACE2 monomers have a brief half-life of roughly three hours with a quick clearing fee, they lack appropriate effectiveness in treating this illness. Importantly, in keeping with a Section I medical trial report, rhACE2 inhalation was effectively tolerated and secure.

The therapeutic potential of rhACE2 as a decoy receptor towards COVID-19 might be improved by ACE2 mutagenesis approaches. This technique can improve binding affinity and fusion to Fc, which may lengthen the half-life of those brokers, in addition to improve antiviral immune responses and avidity results, each of that are important options of efficient COVID-19 therapeutics. 

As in comparison with native ACE2, ACE2 decoy receptors should exhibit the next affinity for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This might guarantee aggressive neutralization of the virus on the host cell floor utilizing customary biologic doses. Among the strategies used to realize high-affinity virus neutralizers embrace direct evolution with error-prone polymerase chain response (PCR) and staggered extension course of (StEP).

Deep mutational scanning (DMS) is one other methodology used for complete mutagenesis evaluation. Though this method offers massive knowledge associated to single amino acid substitutions that assist perceive intrinsic protein properties, the dearth of a normal methodology could cause points in choosing which mutations might be mixed synergistically.

This downside might be solved by computational modeling, which helps predict the efficient mixture with out affecting the soundness or binding free power of the protein. For instance, the a number of sequence alignment (MSA) mannequin has been used to align greater than three organic protein or DNA sequences to research the homology and evolutionary relationship between sequences.

Future views

ACE2 decoy receptors can successfully mitigate challenges related to virus escapability. Proof from earlier research associated to DMS and ACE2 mutagenesis strongly help the potential of utilizing ACE2 decoy receptor proteins at a minimal dose towards SARS-CoV-2 variant an infection.

Complete screening for engineered ACE2 decoy receptors to endogenous proteins, significantly membrane proteins, will assist verify the dangers related to potential off-target results. Taken collectively, the authors of the present examine are optimistic that ACE2 decoy receptors might be efficient towards the presently circulating in addition to new coronaviruses.

Journal reference:
  • Arimori, T., Ikemura, N., Okamoto, T., et al. (2022) Engineering ACE2 decoy receptors to fight viral escapability. Developments in Pharmacological Sciences. doi:10.1016/



Leave a Reply