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Despite the unprecedented global response to SARS-CoV-2, which has generated over 250,000 publications in two years, critical aspects of SARS-CoV-2 biology, pathogenesis, and immunomodulation remain uncertain, including mechanisms underlying the cytokine storm and coagulation dyscrasias. Nucleocapsid (N) protein, the most abundant viral protein expressed during infection, induces strong antibody and T cell responses. N is considered to be strictly localized intracellularly. However, cell surface expression of viral nucleoproteins is the rule, not the exception, among RNA viruses including influenza A, vesicular stomatitis, measles, and respiratory syncytial viruses. Cell surface viral nucleoproteins have been reported to induce immunosuppression, but also to serve as antibody targets.

In this GEN webinar, our distinguished speaker Dr. Alberto Lopez-Munoz will show how he finds that N is expressed on the cell surface of live cells in high copy numbers and that it binds to infected and non-infected neighboring cells by electrostatically associating with glycosaminoglycans. Using Bio-Layer Interferometry on the Octet® platform, Dr. Lopez-Munoz found that Nbinds specifically to heparan sulfate/heparin with high affinity, but also binds to a set of 11 human chemokines, inhibiting chemotaxis. These data indicate that cell surface N may play an important role in host adaptive immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and in manipulating innate immunity at the early stages of infection.


A live Q&A session followed the presentation, offering a chance to pose questions to our expert panelist.

Alberto Lopez-Munoz
Alberto Lopez-Munoz, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher
Laboratory of Viral Diseases
National Institutes of Health

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