The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected over 100 million people causing over 2.4 million deaths over the world, and it is still expanding. Although, ACE2 has been identified as the principal host cell receptor of 2019-nCoV, and it is thought to play a critical role in the virus's entrance into the cell and subsequent infection, many cells can be infected by COVID-19 while also expressing little or no ACE2. Unlike other viral infections, COVID-19 is characterized by widespread and severe systemic manifestations, immune dysregulation and multi-organ involvement. In addition, the range of serious inflammatory, neuropsychiatric and autoimmune diseases called post-COVID syndromes are now left behind as disease tables. This wide and diverse spectrum of diseases seen in COVID-19 cannot be explained by the mechanism of viral tropism mediated by ACE2 and TMPRSS2 receptors. It is possible that different receptor and signaling mechanisms that cannot be explained by the viral tropism mechanism play a role in the pathogenesis of acute systemic effects and chronic post-COVID syndromes in COVID-19. It was showed that COVID-19 infection leads to a loss of smell (anosmia) but the COVID-19 entry receptors, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), is not expressed in the receptor of olfactory neurons, or its generation is limited to a minor fraction of these neurons. Moreover It was demonstrated that COVID-19 could infect lymphocyte through its ACE2 receptors, but numerous studies found that lymphocytes don't express ACE2 receptors or express it with a little, insufficient amount. It is clear from the information and findings presented and addressed in our article that COVID-19 not only binds to ACE2, but also to additional receptors, leading to more disease lethality and existence of covid-19 symptoms which remain unexplained. As a result, discovering and identifying these receptors could lead to the development of new treatments that could suppress COVID-19 and reduce its severity and pathogenicity. Herein, we insilico discovered that blocking of STRA6 by the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein could disrupt the retinoid signaling mechanism and leads to pathogenetic consequences through some other inflammatory pathways.
The STRA6 receptor protein were submitted to the server for functional interaction associated network between partners for the STRING (Research Online of Interacting Genes/Proteins Data Basis version 10.0)13 .Docking study of each Spike -ACE 2 and STRA6 receptor protein were carried out using HDOCK server (http://hdock.phys.hust.edu.cn/). The binding mode of Spike -ACE 2 and STRA6 receptor protein is retrieved form the PDB https://www.rcsb.org/ with accession number (7DMU , 5sy1)
Our results showed that COVID-19 Spike protein exhibited a high binding affinity for human STRA6 and a low binding energy with it. The docking score of COVID-19 spike protein with STRA6( -354.68) kcal/mol was higher than the docking score of spike protein with ACE2 (-341.21 ) kcal/mol. Spike protein Receptor Binding Domain(RDB) of COVID-19 strongly and efficiently binds to STRA6 receptor, definitely to the RDB vital residues of RBP-binding motif located in STRA6 receptor. The docking of STRA6 target protein with spike viral protein revealed the involvement of the spike protein into the extracellular and membrane part of the STRA6 receptor and amino acids residues of STRA6 along with spike protein which make interactions and play an important role in formation of complexes. The corresponding distances about the residue contacts between proteins STRA6- Spike protein complex are documented here where the STRA6- Spike protein complexes binding site are the RDB of the CHOLESTEROL in STRA6 receptor which bind with interface residue( ARG 511A , VAL 512A THR 515A ALA 516A ASN 519A with interface residue degree (2.965 , 3.595 , 3.286 , 4.592 , and 4.235) representatively, also the ability of the spike to bind to RDB of the STRA 6 protein in the ILE 131C , MET 145C , HIS 86A with interface residue( 4.961 , 4.953 and 3.271) representatively. STRA6- Spike protein complex with PDB ID (5SY1 , 6LZG).
STRA6 is a critical regulator of many biological processes thorough initiating cellular retinol uptake, in different organs and tissues as in immune cells for improving the immune system homeostasis in various populations. Our docking study reveals that COVID-19 spike protein binds directly to the integral membrane receptor (STRA6) in addition to its binding sites of the cholesterol. STRA6 mediates cellular uptake of retinol (vitamin A) by recognizing a molecule of RBP-retinol to trigger release and internalization of retinol . Therefore COVID-19 may leads to downregulation of STRA6 receptor leading to inhibition the regulatory function of retinoic acid and cholesterol helping in existing symptoms and complications including lymhopenia, Nuerogical disorders, Ineffective RIG-I pathway, Interferon inhibition, Cytokine storm, Diabetes, Hormonal imbalance, Thrombosis, and Smell loss. Therefore, we believe that this novel discovery that STRA6 receptor acts as a novel binding receptor for COVID-19 could explain COVID-19 severity and its common symptoms with unknown aetiology . Moreover, retinoic acid metabolism was found to be defective in COVID-19 (cytokine storm), sepsis, ARDS and SIRS .As a result reconstitution of the retinoid signaling may prove to be a valid strategy for COVID-19 management. We suggest that Vitamin A metabolites ,especially, retinoic acid will be promising and effective treatments for COVID-19 infection and its unknown aetiology symptoms. It worth mentioning that aerosolized all- trans retinoic acid and 13 cis retinoic acid is currently under clinical investigation (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT05002530, NCT04353180)