Mortazavi1 M, Bains1 A, Afsah-Hejri L, Ehsani* R, LiWang PJ. SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus persists on the surface of multiple produce but can be inactivated with gaseous ozone. CellPress. 2022.

Due to the immense societal and economic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is one of the most important priorities at this time. The global interconnectedness of the food industry makes it one of the biggest concerns for SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks. Although fomites are currently considered a low-risk route of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, new variants of the virus can potentially alter the transmission dynamics. In this study, we compared the survival rate of pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 on plastic with some commonly used food samples (i.e., apple, strawberry, grapes, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, Brazil nut, almond, cashew, and hazelnut). The porosity level and the chemical composition of different food products affect the virus’s stability and infectivity. Tomato, cucumber, and apple offered a higher survival rate for the pseudotyped viruses. Next, we explored the effectiveness of ozone in deactivating the SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus on the surface of tomato, cucumber, and apple. We found that the virus was effectively inactivated after being exposed to 15 ppm of ozone for one hour under ambient conditions. SEM imaging revealed that while ozone exposure altered the wax layer on the surface of produce, it did not seem to damage the cells and their biological structures. The results of our study show that ozonated air can likely provide a convenient method of effectively disinfecting bulk food shipments that may harbour the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


Stark LE, Guan W, Colvin ME, LiWang PJ. “The binding and specificity of chemokine binding proteins, through the lens of experiment and computation.” Biomedical Journal. 2021.

Chemokines are small proteins that are critical for immune function, being primarily responsible for the activation and chemotaxis of leukocytes. As such, many viruses, as well as parasitic arthropods, have evolved systems to counteract chemokine function in order to maintain virulence, such as binding chemokines, mimicking chemokines, or producing analogs of transmembrane chemokine receptors that strongly bind their targets. The focus of this review is the large group of chemokine binding proteins (CBP) with an emphasis on those produced by mammalian viruses. Because many chemokines mediate inflammation, these CBP could possibly be used pharmaceutically as anti-inflammatory agents. In this review, we summarize the structural properties of a diverse set of CBP and describe in detail the chemokine binding properties of the poxvirus-encoded CBP called vCCI (viral CC Chemokine Inhibitor). Finally, we describe the current and emerging capabilities of combining computational simulation, structural analysis, and biochemical/biophysical experimentation to understand, and possibly re-engineer, protein-protein interactions.