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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Maryland College Park
  • Jeffery B Klauda
  • (301) 405-1320
Award Date:06/02/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 150,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 150,000
  • FY 2020=$150,000
Start Date:06/15/2020
End Date:05/31/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.049
Primary Program Source:040100 R&RA CARES Act DEFC N
Award Title or Description:EAGER: Collaborative Research: Design of Inhibitors for ORF7a and ORF7b Oligomerization in COVID-19
Federal Award ID Number:2029900
DUNS ID:790934285
Parent DUNS ID:003256088
Program:Chemistry of Life Processes
Program Officer:
  • Catalina Achim
  • (703) 292-2048

Awardee Location

Street:3112 LEE BLDG 7809 Regents Drive
County:College Park
Awardee Cong. District:05

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Maryland
Street:Chem/Nuc Bldg 090 4418Stadium Dr
City:College Park
County:College Park
Cong. District:05

Abstract at Time of Award

With this award, the Chemistry of Life Processes Program in the Chemistry Division and the Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Program in the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division are funding Dr. Bryan Berger (University of Virginia) and Dr. Jeffery Klauda (University of Maryland) to investigate two proteins named ORF7a and OR7b from the COVID19 virus that have been implicated in how harmful the virus is to its host, e.g. the human cells. The research will focus on how these two proteins form larger protein complexes that in turn affect the interactions between the virus and the infected cells and influence the immune response of the host. The research informs the development of peptides that could be used to probe the viral propagation. The research is based on the use of a combination of computational and experimental methods. Dr. Berger and Dr. Klauda distribute to the scientific community free of charge through Addgene the plasmids and associated protocols developed for this project, thus enabling the global scientific community that works on finding a solution to the current pandemic and to minimizing the possibility of future outbreaks to quickly use the outcomes of their research. This work will provide training for post-doctoral fellows working on critical challenges using state-of-the-art experimental and computational methods. The results of the research will be disseminated by the team to the greater community through conferences and workshops at University of Virginia and University of Maryland and through publications. The researchers also plan to inform and educate students on possible mechanisms of virus transmission and prevention by participation in existing outreach programs at their Institutions. This research project seeks to understand the basis of specificity for transmembrane and juxtamembrane oligomerization of ORF7a with BST-2 and for homooligomerization of ORF7b. Using bacterial transcriptional assays for membrane protein dimerization based on the E. coli AraC protein (AraTM and DN-AraTM assays), the researches determine specific amino acid residues and structural motifs responsible for the protein oligomerization in bacterial membranes. This knowledge informs computational models for formation of BST-2/ORF7a heterooligomers and ORF7b homooligomers. In turn, the computational models are used to make critical new predictions of sequences for transmembrane peptides that could influence protein-protein interactions involving ORF7a and ORF7b. These predictions and the properties of the peptides are tested by synthesizing peptide libraries and using AraTM, DN-AraTM, and mammalian, cell-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer assays. Validation of candidate sequences are achieved using mammalian cell-based assays for BST-2 function and apoptosis. The results of these studies could provide high-resolution, experimentally validated models for OR7a and ORF7b homo and heterooligomerization, as well as peptide sequences that can be used to probe the roles of ORF7a and ORF7b in viral propagation in vivo. This grant is being awarded using funds made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supplement allocated to MPS and ENG. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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