The discovery of a molecular factor that helps many types of coronaviruses invade host cells could lead to COVID-19 treatments that retain effectiveness as SAR-CoV-2 mutates, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study found that an enzyme, phosphorylated C-terminal domain (CTD)–interacting factor 1 (PCIF1), helps the SARS-CoV-2 virus enter lung cells by stabilizing the activity of spike enzymes that attach to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors on the host cell surface. “[O]nce SARS-CoV-2 has opened the door to a cell, PCIF1 helps keep the door open,” the study’s senior author Tariq Rana, PhD, of the UC San Diego School of Medicine, said in a news release.
Unlike spike proteins targeted by most current COVID-19 therapies, the PCIF1 cell–host factor is preserved across SARS-CoV-2 variants and even other coronaviruses. This makes it a promising target for future therapies, the study authors said.
Published Online: February 1, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.0748