Peptidoglycan-associated cyclic lipopeptide disrupts viral infectivity

Bryan A. Johnson, Adam Hage, Birte Kalveram, Megan Mears, Jessica A. Plante, Sergio E. Rodriguez, Zhixia Ding, Xuemei Luo, Dennis Bente, Shelton S. Bradrick, Alexander N. Freiberg, Vsevolod Popov, Ricardo Rajsbaum, Shannan Rossi, William K. Russell, Vineet D. Menachery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Enteric viruses exploit bacterial components, including lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and peptidoglycan (PG), to facilitate infection in humans. Because of their origin in the bat enteric system, we wondered if severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) or Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV) also use bacterial components to modulate infectivity. To test this question, we incubated CoVs with LPS and PG and evaluated infectivity, finding no change following LPS treatment. However, PG from Bacillus subtilis reduced infection >10,000-fold, while PG from other bacterial species failed to recapitulate this. Treatment with an alcohol solvent transferred inhibitory activity to the wash, and mass spectrometry revealed surfactin, a cyclic lipopeptide antibiotic, as the inhibitory compound. This antibiotic had robust dose- and temperature-dependent inhibition of CoV infectivity. Mechanistic studies indicated that surfactin disrupts CoV virion integrity, and surfactin treatment of the virus inoculum ablated infection in vivo. Finally, similar cyclic lipopeptides had no effect on CoV infectivity, and the inhibitory effect of surfactin extended broadly to enveloped viruses, including influenza, Ebola, Zika, Nipah, chikungunya, Una, Mayaro, Dugbe, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses. Overall, our results indicate that peptidoglycan-associated surfactin has broad viricidal activity and suggest that bacteria by-products may negatively modulate virus infection. IMPORTANCE In this article, we consider a role for bacteria in shaping coronavirus infection. Taking cues from studies of enteric viruses, we initially investigated how bacterial surface components might improve CoV infection. Instead, we found that peptidoglycan-associated surfactin is a potent viricidal compound that disrupts virion integrity with broad activity against enveloped viruses. Our results indicate that interactions with commensal bacterial may improve or disrupt viral infections, highlighting the importance of understanding these microbial interactions and their implications for viral pathogenesis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01282-19
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Coronavirus
  • Cyclic lipopeptide
  • MERS-CoV
  • Microbiome
  • SARS-CoV
  • Surfactin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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