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COVID-19 and iron dysregulation: distant sequence similarity between hepcidin and the novel coronavirus spike glycoprotein

Ehsani, S; (2020) COVID-19 and iron dysregulation: distant sequence similarity between hepcidin and the novel coronavirus spike glycoprotein. Biology Direct , 15 (1) , Article 19. 10.1186/s13062-020-00275-2. Green open access

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Abstract

The spike glycoprotein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has attracted attention for its vaccine potential and binding capacity to host cell surface receptors. Much of this research focus has centered on the ectodomain of the spike protein. The ectodomain is anchored to a transmembrane region, followed by a cytoplasmic tail. Here we report a distant sequence similarity between the cysteine-rich cytoplasmic tail of the coronavirus spike protein and the hepcidin protein that is found in humans and other vertebrates. Hepcidin is thought to be the key regulator of iron metabolism in humans through its inhibition of the iron-exporting protein ferroportin. An implication of this preliminary observation is to suggest a potential route of investigation in the coronavirus research field making use of an already-established literature on the interplay of local and systemic iron regulation, cytokine-mediated inflammatory processes, respiratory infections and the hepcidin protein. The question of possible homology and an evolutionary connection between the viral spike protein and hepcidin is not assessed in this report, but some scenarios for its study are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: COVID-19 and iron dysregulation: distant sequence similarity between hepcidin and the novel coronavirus spike glycoprotein
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13062-020-00275-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13062-020-00275-2
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Cysteine, Ferroportin, Hepcidin, IL-6, Inflammation, Iron, Pufferfish, Sequence similarity, Spike protein
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113209
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