Targeting Virus-Host Protein Interactions to Mitigate COVID-19 Disease

Illustration of coronavirus cell

SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 disease, contains structural proteins similar to those present in SARS-CoV which caused the 2003 SARS pandemic. Specifically, the SARS-CoV E protein has been shown to interact with two key cellular proteins that can contribute significantly to the disease pathogenesis. Da Di, a graduate student from Veterinary Biosciences, will study important protein-protein interactions that occur in both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 and whether they can be disrupted by new antiviral drugs.

“I plan to develop new fluorescence-based high throughput assays to look for compounds that can interfere with these known viral-cellular protein-protein interactions and test the lead compounds in vitro and in vivo,” said Di. “These new drugs can mitigate COVID-19 disease pathogenesis in patients.”

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.