Correa Y, Waldie S, Thépaut M, Micciula S, Moulin M, Fieschi F, Pichler H, Trevor Forsyth V, Haertlein M, Cárdenas M
J Colloid Interface Sci 602 (-) 732-739 [2021-06-12; online 2021-06-12]
Cholesterol has been shown to affect the extent of coronavirus binding and fusion to cellular membranes. The severity of Covid-19 infection is also known to be correlated with lipid disorders. Furthermore, the levels of both serum cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) decrease with Covid-19 severity, with normal levels resuming once the infection has passed. Here we demonstrate that the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein interferes with the function of lipoproteins, and that this is dependent on cholesterol. In particular, the ability of HDL to exchange lipids from model cellular membranes is altered when co-incubated with the spike protein. Additionally, the S protein removes lipids and cholesterol from model membranes. We propose that the S protein affects HDL function by removing lipids from it and remodelling its composition/structure.