Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which has recently emerged as a potential threat to global public health. SARS-CoV-2 is the third known human coronavirus that has huge impact on the human population after SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Although some vaccines and therapeutic drugs are currently in clinical trials, none of them are approved for commercial use yet. As with SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 utilizes angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as the cell entry receptor to enter into the host cell. In this study, we have transiently produced human ACE2 fused with the Fc region of human IgG1 in Nicotiana benthamiana and the in vitro neutralization efficacy of the plant-produced ACE2-Fc fusion protein was assessed. The recombinant ACE2-Fc fusion protein was expressed in N. benthamiana at 100 μg/g leaf fresh weight on day 6 post-infiltration. The recombinant fusion protein showed potent binding to receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2. Importantly, the plant-produced fusion protein exhibited potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro. Treatment with ACE2-Fc fusion protein after viral infection dramatically inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infectivity in Vero cells with an IC50 value of 0.84 μg/ml. Moreover, treatment with ACE2-Fc fusion protein at the pre-entry stage suppressed SARS-CoV-2 infection with an IC50 of 94.66 μg/ml. These findings put a spotlight on the plant-produced ACE2-Fc fusion protein as a potential therapeutic candidate against SARS-CoV-2.
- ACE2-Fc fusion protein
- molecular farming
- Nicotiana benthamiana
- plant-produced recombinant protein