Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) results from an infection by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the third coronavirus outbreak to plague humanity this century. Currently, the most efficacious therapeutic against SARS-CoV-2 infection is the Remdesivir (RDV), an adenine-like ribonucleotide analogue that is very efficiently incorporated by the SARS-CoV-2 replicase. Understanding why RDV is so well incorporated will facilitate development of even more effective therapeutics. Here, we have applied a high-throughput, single-molecule, magnetic-tweezers platform to study thousands of cycles of nucleotide addition by the SARS-CoV-2 replicase in the absence and presence of RDV, a Favipiravir-related analog (T-1106), and the endogenously produced ddhCTP. Our data are consistent with two parallel catalytic pathways of the replicase: a high-fidelity catalytic (HFC) state and a low-fidelity catalytic (LFC) state, the latter allowing the slow incorporation of both cognate and non-cognate nucleotides. ddhCTP accesses HFC, T-1106 accesses LFC as a non-cognate nucleotide, while RDV efficiently accesses both LFC pathway. In contrast to previous reports, we provide unequivocal evidence against RDV functioning as a chain terminator. We show that RDV incorporation transiently stalls the replicase, only appearing as termination events when traditional, gel-based assays are used. The efficiency of ddhCTP utilization by the SARS-CoV-2 replicase suggests suppression of its synthesis during infection, inspiring new therapeutic strategies. Use of this experimental paradigm will be essential to the development of therapeutic nucleotide analogs targeting polymerases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)