Accumulating evidence indicates a potential role for bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the overactivation of the immune response during SARS-CoV-2 infection. LPS is recognized by Toll-like receptor 4, mediating proinflammatory effects. We previously reported that LPS directly interacts with SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein and enhances proinflammatory activities. Using native gel electrophoresis and hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, we showed that LPS binds to multiple hydrophobic pockets spanning both the S1 and S2 subunits of the S protein. Molecular simulations validated by a microscale thermophoresis binding assay revealed that LPS binds to the S2 pocket with a lower affinity compared to S1, suggesting a role as an intermediate in LPS transfer. Congruently, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation in monocytic THP-1 cells is strongly boosted by S2. Using NF-κB reporter mice followed by bioimaging, a boosting effect was observed for both S1 and S2, with the former potentially facilitated by proteolysis. The Omicron S variant binds to LPS, but with reduced affinity and LPS boosting in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, the data provide a molecular mechanism by which S protein augments LPS-mediated hyperinflammation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Medicine