Targeting Crucial Host Factors of SARS-CoV-2

Anil Mathew Tharappel, Subodh Kumar Samrat, Zhong Li, Hongmin Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has spread worldwide since its first incidence in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Although the case fatality rate of COVID-19 appears to be lower than that of SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), the higher transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 has caused the total fatality to surpass other viral diseases, reaching more than 1 million globally as of October 6, 2020. The rate at which the disease is spreading calls for a therapy that is useful for treating a large population. Multiple intersecting viral and host factor targets involved in the life cycle of the virus are being explored. Because of the frequent mutations, many coronaviruses gain zoonotic potential, which is dependent on the presence of cell receptors and proteases, and therefore the targeting of the viral proteins has some drawbacks, as strain-specific drug resistance can occur. Moreover, the limited number of proteins in a virus makes the number of available targets small. Although SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 share common mechanisms of entry and replication, there are substantial differences in viral proteins such as the spike (S) protein. In contrast, targeting cellular factors may result in a broader range of therapies, reducing the chances of developing drug resistance. In this Review, we discuss the role of primary host factors such as the cell receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), cellular proteases of S protein priming, post-translational modifiers, kinases, inflammatory cells, and their pharmacological intervention in the infection of SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2844-2865
Number of pages22
JournalACS Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 13 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • coronavirus
  • drug targets
  • host factors
  • inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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