Cell Fusion
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2021 ◽  
Vol 6 (1) ◽  
Shuai Xia ◽  
Qiaoshuai Lan ◽  
Yun Zhu ◽  
Chao Wang ◽  
Wei Xu ◽  

AbstractThe COVID-19 pandemic poses a global threat to public health and economy. The continuously emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants present a major challenge to the development of antiviral agents and vaccines. In this study, we identified that EK1 and cholesterol-coupled derivative of EK1, EK1C4, as pan-CoV fusion inhibitors, exhibit potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection in both lung- and intestine-derived cell lines (Calu-3 and Caco2, respectively). They are also effective against infection of pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 variants B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.1.248 (Gamma) as well as those with mutations in S protein, including N417T, E484K, N501Y, and D614G, which are common in South African and Brazilian variants. Crystal structure revealed that EK1 targets the HR1 domain in the SARS-CoV-2 S protein to block virus-cell fusion and provide mechanistic insights into its broad and effective antiviral activity. Nasal administration of EK1 peptides to hACE2 transgenic mice significantly reduced viral titers in lung and intestinal tissues. EK1 showed good safety profiles in various animal models, supporting further clinical development of EK1-based pan-CoV fusion inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.

BMC Cancer ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 21 (1) ◽  
Ariadna Brito ◽  
Candice Merle ◽  
Pauline Lagarde ◽  
Benjamin Faustin ◽  
Anne Devin ◽  

Abstract Background Cell-to-cell fusion is emerging as a key element of the metastatic process in various cancer types. We recently showed that hybrids made from the spontaneous merging of pre-malignant (IMR90 E6E7, i.e. E6E7) and malignant (IMR90 E6E7 RST, i.e. RST) mesenchymal cells recapitulate the main features of human undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS), with a highly rearranged genome and increased spreading capacities. To better characterize the intrinsic properties of these hybrids, we investigated here their metabolic energy profile compared to their parents. Results Our results unveiled that hybrids harbored a Warburg-like metabolism, like their RST counterparts. However, hybrids displayed a much greater metabolic activity, enhancing glycolysis to proliferate. Interestingly, modifying the metabolic environmental conditions through the use of 5-aminoimidazole-4-carbox-amide-1-β-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR), an activator of the 5′-adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK), specifically reduced the growth of hybrids, and also abrogated the invasive capacity of hybrids displaying enhanced glycolysis. Furthermore, AICAR efficiently blocked the tumoral features related to the aggressiveness of human UPS cell lines. Conclusion Altogether, our findings strongly suggest that hybrids rely on higher energy flux to proliferate and that a drug altering this metabolic equilibrium could impair their survival and be potentially considered as a novel therapeutic strategy.

2021 ◽  
Vol 12 (1) ◽  
Daniel Feliciano ◽  
Carolyn M. Ott ◽  
Isabel Espinosa-Medina ◽  
Aubrey V. Weigel ◽  
Lorena Benedetti ◽  

AbstractCells in many tissues, such as bone, muscle, and placenta, fuse into syncytia to acquire new functions and transcriptional programs. While it is known that fused cells are specialized, it is unclear whether cell-fusion itself contributes to programmatic-changes that generate the new cellular state. Here, we address this by employing a fusogen-mediated, cell-fusion system to create syncytia from undifferentiated cells. RNA-Seq analysis reveals VSV-G-induced cell fusion precedes transcriptional changes. To gain mechanistic insights, we measure the plasma membrane surface area after cell-fusion and observe it diminishes through increases in endocytosis. Consequently, glucose transporters internalize, and cytoplasmic glucose and ATP transiently decrease. This reduced energetic state activates AMPK, which inhibits YAP1, causing transcriptional-reprogramming and cell-cycle arrest. Impairing either endocytosis or AMPK activity prevents YAP1 inhibition and cell-cycle arrest after fusion. Together, these data demonstrate plasma membrane diminishment upon cell-fusion causes transient nutrient stress that may promote transcriptional-reprogramming independent from extrinsic cues.

Ophélie Dufrançais ◽  
Rémi Mascarau ◽  
Renaud Poincloux ◽  
Isabelle Maridonneau-Parini ◽  
Brigitte Raynaud-Messina ◽  

AbstractDifferent types of multinucleated giant cells (MGCs) of myeloid origin have been described; osteoclasts are the most extensively studied because of their importance in bone homeostasis. MGCs are formed by cell-to-cell fusion, and most types have been observed in pathological conditions, especially in infectious and non-infectious chronic inflammatory contexts. The precise role of the different MGCs and the mechanisms that govern their formation remain poorly understood, likely due to their heterogeneity. First, we will introduce the main populations of MGCs derived from the monocyte/macrophage lineage. We will then discuss the known molecular actors mediating the early stages of fusion, focusing on cell-surface receptors involved in the cell-to-cell adhesion steps that ultimately lead to multinucleation. Given that cell-to-cell fusion is a complex and well-coordinated process, we will also describe what is currently known about the evolution of F-actin-based structures involved in macrophage fusion, i.e., podosomes, zipper-like structures, and tunneling nanotubes (TNT). Finally, the localization and potential role of the key fusion mediators related to the formation of these F-actin structures will be discussed. This review intends to present the current status of knowledge of the molecular and cellular mechanisms supporting multinucleation of myeloid cells, highlighting the gaps still existing, and contributing to the proposition of potential disease-specific MGC markers and/or therapeutic targets.

2021 ◽  
Yao Yu Yeo ◽  
David W. Buchholz ◽  
Amandine Gamble ◽  
Mason Jager ◽  
Hector C. Aguilar

Cedar virus (CedV) is a nonpathogenic member of the Henipavirus (HNV) genus of emerging viruses, which includes the deadly Nipah (NiV) and Hendra (HeV) viruses. CedV forms syncytia, a hallmark of henipaviral and paramyxoviral infections and pathogenicity. However, the intrinsic fusogenic capacity of CedV relative to NiV or HeV remains unquantified. HNV entry is mediated by concerted interactions between the attachment (G) and fusion (F) glycoproteins. Upon receptor binding by the HNV G head domain, a fusion-activating G stalk region is exposed and triggers F to undergo a conformational cascade that leads to viral entry or cell-cell fusion. Here, we first demonstrated quantitatively that CedV is inherently significantly less fusogenic than NiV at equivalent G and F cell surface expression levels. We then generated and tested six headless CedV G mutants of distinct stalk C-terminal lengths, surprisingly revealing highly hyperfusogenic cell-cell fusion phenotypes 3 to 4-fold greater than wild-type CedV levels. Additionally, similarly to NiV, a headless HeV G mutant yielded a less pronounced hyperfusogenic phenotype compared to wild-type HeV. Further, coimmunoprecipitation and cell-cell fusion assays revealed heterotypic NiV/CedV functional G/F bidentate interactions, as well as evidence of HNV G head domain involvement beyond receptor binding or G stalk exposure. All evidence points to the G head/stalk junction being key to modulating HNV fusogenicity, supporting the notion that head domains play several distinct and central roles in modulating stalk domain fusion promotion. Further, this study exemplifies how CedV may help elucidate important mechanistic underpinnings of HNV entry and pathogenicity. IMPORTANCE The Henipavirus genus in the Paramyxoviridae family includes the zoonotic Nipah (NiV) and Hendra (HeV) viruses. NiV and HeV infections often cause fatal encephalitis and pneumonia, but no vaccines or therapeutics are currently approved for human use. Upon viral entry, Henipavirus infections yield the formation of multinucleated cells (syncytia). Viral entry and cell-cell fusion are mediated by the attachment (G) and fusion (F) glycoproteins. Cedar virus (CedV), a nonpathogenic henipavirus, may be a useful tool to gain knowledge on henipaviral pathogenicity. Here, using homotypic and heterotypic full-length and headless CedV, NiV, and HeV G/F combinations, we discovered that CedV G/F are significantly less fusogenic than NiV or HeV G/F, and that the G head/stalk junction is key to modulating cell-cell fusion, refining the mechanism of henipaviral membrane fusion events. Our study exemplifies how CedV may be a useful tool to elucidate broader mechanistic understanding for the important henipaviruses.

Victoria E. Deneke ◽  
Andrea Pauli

Fertilization is a multistep process that culminates in the fusion of sperm and egg, thus marking the beginning of a new organism in sexually reproducing species. Despite its importance for reproduction, the molecular mechanisms that regulate this singular event, particularly sperm–egg fusion, have remained mysterious for many decades. Here, we summarize our current molecular understanding of sperm–egg interaction, focusing mainly on mammalian fertilization. Given the fundamental importance of sperm–egg fusion yet the lack of knowledge of this process in vertebrates, we discuss hallmarks and emerging themes of cell fusion by drawing from well-studied examples such as viral entry, placenta formation, and muscle development. We conclude by identifying open questions and exciting avenues for future studies in gamete fusion. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, Volume 37 is October 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

2021 ◽  
Jesse V Kurland ◽  
Ashleigh Van Deusen ◽  
Bradley Pawlikowski ◽  
Monica Hall ◽  
Nicole Dalla Betta ◽  

Skeletal muscle cells are multinucleated syncytial cells arising from cell fusion, yet despite sharing a common cytoplasm individual myonuclei express distinct transcriptional programs. Whether individual myonuclei acquire heterogenous transcriptional states via differences in their progenitors, during differentiation, or once their anatomical position is acquired, is not known. We performed transcriptome and pseudotime analysis of single myogenic nuclei from uninjured and post-injury murine skeletal muscle to assess when myonuclear heterogeneity is acquired. Two distinct progenitors contribute to myonuclei, one a non-myogenic fibroblast subtype, and skeletal muscle stem cells the other. Both progenitors enter a single pseudotime trajectory that bifurcates as myonuclei mature into two branches segregated by myosin isoform expression and metabolic profiles, suggesting transcriptional heterogeneity is acquired as myonuclei mature. In aged skeletal muscle myogenic progenitor expansion is perturbed and nuclei from aged muscle display distinct pseudotemporal kinetics compared to nuclei from young mice. In aged mice, the inferred myogenic differentiation trajectory is delayed, altering the distribution of myogenic nuclei in pseudotime, suggesting that altered transcriptional dynamics in nuclei in aged mice may drive age-associated muscle deficits and bias myonuclei towards acquiring oxidative metabolic profiles.

2021 ◽  
Özge Özgüç ◽  
Ludmilla de Plater ◽  
Varun Kapoor ◽  
Anna-Francesca Tortorelli ◽  
Jean-Léon Maitre

Actomyosin contractility is a major engine of preimplantation morphogenesis, which starts at the 8-cell stage during mouse embryonic development. Contractility becomes first visible with the appearance of periodic cortical waves of contraction (PeCoWaCo), which travel around blastomeres in an oscillatory fashion. How contractility of the mouse embryo becomes active remains unknown. We have taken advantage of PeCoWaCo to study the awakening of contractility during preimplantation development. We find that PeCoWaCo become detectable in most embryos only after the 2nd cleavage and gradually increase their oscillation frequency with each successive cleavage. To test the influence of cell size reduction during cleavage divisions, we use cell fusion and fragmentation to manipulate cell size across a 20-60 μm range. We find that the stepwise reduction in cell size caused by cleavage divisions does not explain the presence of PeCoWaCo or their accelerating rhythm. Instead, we discover that blastomeres gradually decrease their surface tensions until the 8-cell stage and that artificially softening cells enhances PeCoWaCo prematurely. Therefore, during cleavage stages, cortical softening awakens zygotic contractility before preimplantation morphogenesis.

2021 ◽  
Thomas Meunier ◽  
Lowiese Desmarets ◽  
Simon Bordage ◽  
Moussa Bamba ◽  
Kevin Hervouet ◽  

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has highlighted the need for broad-spectrum antivirals against coronaviruses (CoVs). Here, pheophorbide a (Pba) was identified as a highly active antiviral molecule against HCoV-229E after bioguided fractionation of plant extracts. The antiviral activity of Pba was subsequently shown for SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV, and its mechanism of action was further assessed, showing that Pba is an inhibitor of coronavirus entry by directly targeting the viral particle. Interestingly, the antiviral activity of Pba depends on light exposure, and Pba was shown to inhibit virus-cell fusion by stiffening the viral membrane as demonstrated by cryo-electron microscopy. Moreover, Pba was shown to be broadly active against several other enveloped viruses, and reduced SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV replication in primary human bronchial epithelial cells. Pba is the first described natural antiviral against SARS-CoV-2 with direct photosensitive virucidal activity that holds potential for COVID-19 therapy or disinfection of SARS-CoV-2 contaminated surfaces.

2021 ◽  
Vol 11 (1) ◽  
Yanxing Cai ◽  
Wei Xu ◽  
Jiayi Tang ◽  
Najing Cao ◽  
Qiaoshuai Lan ◽  

Abstract Background Our previous studies have shown that combining the antiviral lectin GRFT and the pan-CoV fusion inhibitory peptide EK1 results in highly potent inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this study, we aimed to design and construct a bivalent protein consisting of GRFT and EK1 components and evaluate its inhibitory activity and mechanism of action against infection by SARS-CoV-2 and its mutants, as well as other human coronaviruses (HCoVs). Methods The bivalent proteins were expressed in E. coli and purified with Ni-NTA column. HIV backbone-based pseudovirus (PsV) infection and HCoV S-mediated cell–cell fusion assays were performed to test their inhibitory activity. ELISA and Native-PAGE were conducted to illustrate the mechanism of action of these bivalent proteins. Five-day-old newborn mice were intranasally administrated with a selected bivalent protein before or after HCoV-OC43 challenge, and its protective effect was monitored for 14 days. Results Among the three bivalent proteins purified, GL25E exhibited the most potent inhibitory activity against infection of SARS-CoV-2 PsVs expressing wild-type and mutated S protein. GL25E was significantly more effective than GRFT and EK1 alone in inhibiting HCoV S-mediated cell–cell fusion, as well as infection by SARS-CoV-2 and other HCoVs, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63 and HCoV-OC43. GL25E could inhibit authentic SASR-CoV-2, HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-229E infection in vitro and prevent newborn mice from authentic HCoV-OC43 infection in vivo. GL25E could bind to glycans in the S1 subunit and HR1 in the S2 subunit in S protein, showing a mechanism of action similar to that of GRFT and EK1 alone. Conclusions Since GL25E showed highly potent and broad-spectrum inhibitory activity against infection of SARS-CoV-2 and its mutants, as well as other HCoVs, it is a promising candidate for further development as a broad-spectrum anti-HCoV therapeutic and prophylactic to treat and prevent COVID-19 and other emerging HCoV diseases.

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