Inhibition of HECT E3 ligases as potential therapy for COVID-19

COVID Human Genetic Effort, French COVID Cohort Study Group, CoV-Contact Cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the ongoing world-wide pandemic which has already taken more than two million lives. Effective treatments are urgently needed. The enzymatic activity of the HECT-E3 ligase family members has been implicated in the cell egression phase of deadly RNA viruses such as Ebola through direct interaction of its VP40 Protein. Here we report that HECT-E3 ligase family members such as NEDD4 and WWP1 interact with and ubiquitylate the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. Furthermore, we find that HECT family members are overexpressed in primary samples derived from COVID-19 infected patients and COVID-19 mouse models. Importantly, rare germline activating variants in the NEDD4 and WWP1 genes are associated with severe COVID-19 cases. Critically, I3C, a natural NEDD4 and WWP1 inhibitor from Brassicaceae, displays potent antiviral effects and inhibits viral egression. In conclusion, we identify the HECT family members of E3 ligases as likely novel biomarkers for COVID-19, as well as new potential targets of therapeutic strategy easily testable in clinical trials in view of the established well-tolerated nature of the Brassicaceae natural compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number310
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalCell death & disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 24 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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