Covid-19 Story Tip: Lessons From A Disease Of Aging May Block Coronavirus Infection


An enzyme linked to a premature aging disease called progeria may also defend against viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

The enzyme, called membrane-associated zinc metalloprotease ZMPSTE24, was discovered by the laboratory of Susan Michaelis, Ph.D. She has spent the last several decades studying the enzyme and its effect on a protein called lamin A, which is critical to maintaining the structure of the nucleus, a cell’s control center.

Mutations in the genes that encode either ZMPSTE24 or lamin A cause progeria, the disease that accelerates aging from birth and is often fatal by the time children are in their teens.

Other researchers have shown that ZMPSTE24 also has a role in the immune system response to many viruses. Michaelis’ team is now studying whether ZMPSTE24 can block SARS-CoV-2 from entering a host cell and, if so, how the enzyme does this.

The findings, says Michaelis, may reveal a way to provide cells with a better defense against SARS-CoV-2.