A mouse-adapted model of SARS-CoV-2 to test COVID-19 countermeasures.

K. H. DinnonRalph S Baric


Coronaviruses are prone to transmission to new host species, as recently demonstrated by the spread to humans of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic1. Small animal models that recapitulate SARS-CoV-2 disease are needed urgently for rapid evaluation of medical countermeasures2,3. SARS-CoV-2 cannot infect wild-type laboratory mice owing to inefficient interactions between the viral spike protein and the mouse orthologue of the human receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)4. Here we used reverse genetics5 to remodel the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and mouse ACE2 and designed mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2 MA), a recombinant virus that can use mouse ACE2 for entry into cells. SARS-CoV-2 MA was able to replicate in the upper and lower airways of both young adult and aged BALB/c mice. SARS-CoV-2 MA caused more severe disease in aged mice, and exhibited more clinically relevant phenotypes than those seen in Hfh4-ACE2 transgenic mice, which express human ACE2 under the control of the Hfh4 (also known as Foxj1) promoter. We demonstrate the utility of this model using vaccine-challenge studies in immune-compet...Continue Reading


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