Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) enters the cells through the binding of its spike protein (S-protein) to the cell surface-expressing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Thus, inhibition of S-protein-ACE2 binding may impede SARS-CoV-2 cell entry and attenuate the progression of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In this study, an electrochemical impedance spectroscopy-based biosensing platform consisting of a recombinant ACE2-coated palladium nano-thin-film electrode as the core sensing element was fabricated for the screening of potential inhibitors against S-protein-ACE2 binding. The platform could detect interference of small analytes against S-protein-ACE2 binding at low analyte concentration and small volume (0.1 μg/mL and ~1 μL, estimated total analyte consumption < 4 pg) within 21 min. Thus, a few potential inhibitors of S-protein-ACE2 binding were identified. This includes (2S,3aS,6aS)-1-((S)–N-((S)-1-Carboxy-3-phenylpropyl)alanyl)tetrahydrocyclopenta[b] pyrrole-2-carboxylic acid (ramiprilat) and (2S,3aS,7aS)-1-[(2S)-2-[[(2S)-1-Carboxybutyl]amino]propanoyl]-2,3,3a,4,5,6,7,7a-octahydroindole-2-carboxylic acid (perindoprilat) that reduced the binding affinity of S-protein to ACE2 by 72% and 67%; and SARS-CoV-2 in vitro infectivity to the ACE2-expressing human oral cavity squamous carcinoma cells (OEC-M1) by 36.4 and 20.1%, respectively, compared to the PBS control. These findings demonstrated the usefulness of the developed biosensing platform for the rapid screening of modulators for S-protein-ACE2 binding.
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