UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A Bioluminescent Biosensor for Quantifying the Interaction of SARS-CoV-2 and Its Receptor ACE2 in Cells and In Vitro Yang, Xiaolong; Liu, Lidong; Hao, Yawei; So, Eva; Sarmasti Emami, Sahar; Zhang, Derek; Gong, Yanping; Sheth, Prameet M.; Wang, Yutian


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently spreading and mutating with increasing speed worldwide. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a simple, sensitive, and high-throughput (HTP) assay to quantify virus–host interactions in order to quickly evaluate the infectious ability of mutant viruses and to develop or validate virus-inhibiting drugs. Here, we developed an ultrasensitive bioluminescent biosensor to evaluate virus–cell interactions by quantifying the interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) and its cellular receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) both in living cells and in vitro. We have successfully used this novel biosensor to analyze SARS-CoV-2 RBD mutants and evaluated candidate small molecules (SMs), antibodies, and peptides that may block RBD:ACE2 interaction. This simple, rapid, and HTP biosensor tool will significantly expedite the detection of viral mutants and the anti-COVID-19 drug discovery process.

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