SARS-CoV-2 spike protein S1 activates Cx43 hemichannels and disturbs intracellular Ca2+ dynamics

Prieto-Villalobos, Juan; Lucero, Claudia M.; Rovegno, Maximiliano; Gomez, Gonzalo I.; Retamal, Mauricio A.; Orellana, Juan A.


Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). An aspect of high uncertainty is whether the SARS-CoV-2 per se or the systemic inflammation induced by viral infection directly affects cellular function and survival in different tissues. It has been postulated that tissue dysfunction and damage observed in COVID-19 patients may rely on the direct effects of SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins. Previous evidence indicates that the human immunodeficiency virus and its envelope protein gp120 increase the activity of connexin 43 (Cx43) hemichannels with negative repercussions for cellular function and survival. Here, we evaluated whether the spike protein S1 of SARS-CoV-2 could impact the activity of Cx43 hemichannels.Results We found that spike S1 time and dose-dependently increased the activity of Cx43 hemichannels in HeLa-Cx43 cells, as measured by dye uptake experiments. These responses were potentiated when the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) was expressed in HeLa-Cx43 cells. Patch clamp experiments revealed that spike S1 increased unitary current events with conductances compatible with Cx43 hemichannels. In addition, Cx43 hemichannel opening evoked by spike S1 triggered the release of ATP and increased the [Ca2+](i) dynamics elicited by ATP.Conclusions We hypothesize that Cx43 hemichannels could represent potential pharmacological targets for developing therapies to counteract SARS-CoV-2 infection and their long-term consequences.

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Título según WOS: ID WOS:001088630300002 Not found in local WOS DB
Título de la Revista: BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH
Volumen: 56
Número: 1
Fecha de publicación: 2023


Notas: ISI