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Cholesterol 25-hydroxylase suppresses SARS-CoV-2 replication by blocking membrane fusion

By Ruochen Zang, James Brett Case, Maria Florencia Gomez Castro, Zhuoming Liu, Qiru Zeng, Haiyan Zhao, Juhee Son, Paul W Rothlauf, Gaopeng Hou, Sayantan Bose, Xin Wang, Michael D. Vahey, Tomas Kirchhausen, Daved H Fremont, Michael S. Diamond, Sean P.J. Whelan, Siyuan Ding

Posted 09 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.08.141077

Cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (CH25H) is an interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) that shows broad antiviral activities against a wide range of enveloped viruses. Here, using an ISG screen against VSV-SARS-CoV and VSV-SARS-CoV-2 chimeric viruses, we identified CH25H and its enzymatic product 25-hydroxycholesterol (25HC) as potent inhibitors of virus replication. Mechanistically, internalized 25HC accumulates in the late endosomes and blocks cholesterol export, thereby restricting SARS-CoV-2 spike protein catalyzed membrane fusion. Our results highlight a unique antiviral mechanism of 25HC and provide the molecular basis for its possible therapeutic development. ### Competing Interest Statement M.S.D. is a consultant for Inbios, Eli Lilly, Vir Biotechnology, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, and Emergent BioSolutions and on the Scientific Advisory Board of Moderna. The Diamond laboratory at Washington University School of Medicine has received sponsored research agreements from Moderna. Invention disclosure filed with Washington University in St. Louis for the recombinant VSV-SARS-CoV-2 used herein.

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