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  1. Abstract SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domains (RBDs) interact with both the ACE2 receptor and heparan sulfate on the surface of host cells to enhance SARS-CoV-2 infection. We show that suramin, a polysulfated synthetic drug, binds to the ACE2 receptor and heparan sulfate binding sites on the RBDs of wild-type, Delta, and Omicron variants. Specifically, heparan sulfate and suramin had enhanced preferential binding for Omicron RBD, and suramin is most potent against the live SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) when compared to wild type and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants in vitro. These results suggest that inhibition of live virus infection occurs through dual SARS-CoV-2 targets of S-protein binding and previously reported RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibition and offers the possibility for this and other polysulfated molecules to be used as potential therapeutic and prophylactic options against COVID-19. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
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  7. The now prevalent Omicron variant and its subvariants/sub-lineages have led to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and raised serious concerns about increased risk of infectivity, immune evasion, and reinfection. Heparan sulfate (HS), located on the surface of host cells, plays an important role as a co-receptor for virus–host cell interaction. The ability of heparin and HS to compete for binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein to cell surface HS illustrates the therapeutic potential of agents targeting protein–glycan interactions. In the current study, phylogenetic tree of variants and mutations in S protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) of Omicron BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 were described. The binding affinity of Omicron S protein RBD to heparin was further investigated by surface plasmon resonance (SPR). Solution competition studies on the inhibitory activity of heparin oligosaccharides and desulfated heparins at different sites on S protein RBD–heparin interactions revealed that different sub-lineages tend to bind heparin with different chain lengths and sulfation patterns. Furthermore, blind docking experiments showed the contribution of basic amino acid residues in RBD and sulfo groups and carboxyl groups on heparin to the interaction. Finally, pentosan polysulfate and mucopolysaccharide polysulfate were evaluated for inhibition on the interaction of heparin and S protein RBD of Omicron BA.2.12.1, BA.4/BA.5, and both showed much stronger inhibition than heparin. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  8. The molecular interactions of sulfated glycans, such as heparin, with antithrombin (AT) and platelet factor 4 (PF4) are essential for certain biological events such as anticoagulation and heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). In this study, a library including 84 sulfated glycans (polymers and oligomers) extracted from marine algae along with several animal-originated polysaccharides were subjected to a structure-activity relationship (SAR) study regarding their specific molecular interactions with AT and PF4 using surface plasmon resonance. In this SAR study, multiple characteristics were considered including different algal species, different methods of extraction, molecular weight, monosaccharide composition, sulfate content and pattern and branching vs. linear chains. These factors were found to influence the binding affinity of the studied glycans with AT. Many polysaccharides showed stronger binding than the low molecular weight heparin (e.g., enoxaparin). Fourteen polysaccharides with strong AT-binding affinities were selected to further investigate their binding affinity with PF4. Eleven of these polysaccharides showed strong binding to PF4. It was observed that the types of monosaccharides, molecular weight and branching are not very essential particularly when these polysaccharides are oversulfated. The sulfation levels and sulfation patterns are, on the other hand, the primary contribution to strong AT and PF4 interaction. 
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  9. Sepsis is a lethal syndrome manifested by an unregulated, overwhelming inflammation from the host in response to infection. Here, we exploit the use of a synthetic heparan sulfate octadecasaccharide (18-mer) to protect against sepsis. The 18-mer not only inhibits the pro-inflammatory activity of extracellular histone H3 and high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), but also elicits the anti-inflammatory effect from apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I). We demonstrate that the 18-mer protects against sepsis-related injury and improves survival in cecal ligation and puncture mice and reduces inflammation in an endotoxemia mouse model. The 18-mer neutralizes the cytotoxic histone-3 (H3) through direct interaction with the protein. Furthermore, the 18-mer enlists the actions of ApoA-I to dissociate the complex of HMGB1 and lipopolysaccharide, a toxic complex contributing to cell death and tissue damage in sepsis. Our study provides strong evidence that the 18-mer mitigates inflammatory damage in sepsis by targeting numerous mediators, setting it apart from other potential therapies with a single target. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 24, 2024