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How many SARS-CoV-2 “viroporins” are really ion channels?

Harrison, Neil L. and Abbott, Geoffrey W. and Gentzsch, Martina and Aleksandrov, Andrei and Moroni, Anna and Thiel, Gerhard and Grant, Stephen and Nichols, Colin G. and Lester, Henry A. and Hartel, Andreas and Shepard, Kenneth and Garcia, David Cabrera and Yazawa, Masayuki (2022) How many SARS-CoV-2 “viroporins” are really ion channels? Communications Biology, 5 (1). ISSN 2399-3642. doi:10.1038/s42003-022-03669-2.

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The SARS-CoV-2 virus uses a small number of viral proteins to enter host cells and disrupt their activity, including the spike (S), membrane (M), and envelope (E) proteins, as well as a number of accessory proteins of unknown function (Orf3a, Orf8, Orf10, etc.), some of which may function to alter ion flux across membranes. Toft-Bertelsen et al.1 recently reported that the drug amantadine may interact with virally encoded ion channels and proposed that inhibitors of these “viroporins” might have therapeutic use in COVID-19. We concur with the idea that the E protein of SARS-CoV-2 can form an ion channel and that amantadine inhibits this channel, but we suggest below that a number of additional specific criteria need to be met in order for SARS-CoV-2 accessory proteins (Orf3a, Orf8, Orf10) to be accepted as having ion channel activity, and that further work will be necessary. This field represents a neglected area of overlap between biophysics and virology that continues to be understudied and underfunded and clearly merits greater attention from the relevant funding agencies.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Harrison, Neil L.0000-0002-8013-7765
Abbott, Geoffrey W.0000-0003-4552-496X
Gentzsch, Martina0000-0002-9435-0321
Moroni, Anna0000-0002-1860-406X
Grant, Stephen0000-0003-0923-8886
Lester, Henry A.0000-0002-5470-5255
Shepard, Kenneth0000-0003-0665-6775
Garcia, David Cabrera0000-0001-9609-9102
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220906-252586000
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:116720
Deposited By: Olivia Warschaw
Deposited On:08 Sep 2022 22:32
Last Modified:08 Sep 2022 22:32

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