Alpha 1 Antitrypsin is an Inhibitor of the SARS-CoV-2-Priming Protease TMPRSS2.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
N. P. AzouzMarc E Rothenberg


Host proteases have been suggested to be crucial for dissemination of MERS, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses, but the relative contribution of membrane versus intracellular proteases remains controversial. Transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) is regarded as one of the main proteases implicated in the coronavirus S protein priming, an important step for binding of the S protein to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor before cell entry. The main cellular location where the SARS-CoV-2 S protein priming occurs remains debatable, therefore hampering the development of targeted treatments. Herein, we identified the human extracellular serine protease inhibitor (serpin) alpha 1 antitrypsin (A1AT) as a novel TMPRSS2 inhibitor. Structural modeling revealed that A1AT docked to an extracellular domain of TMPRSS2 in a conformation that is suitable for catalysis, resembling similar serine protease-inhibitor complexes. Inhibitory activity of A1AT was established in a SARS-CoV-2 viral load system. Notably, plasma A1AT levels were associated with COVID-19 disease severity. Our data support the key role of extracellular serine proteases in SARS-CoV-2 infections and indicate that treatment with serpins, particularly the...Continue Reading


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