Articles | 2021

Small, 2021, 2101483

Graphene oxide nanosheets interact and interfere with SARS-CoV-2 surface proteins and cell receptors to inhibit infectivity

Mehmet Altay Unal, Fatma Bayrakdar, Hasan Nazir, Omur Besbinar, Cansu Gurcan, Neus Lozano, Luis Arellano, Süleyman Yalcin, Oguzhan Panatli, Dogantan Celik, Damla Alkaya, Aydan Agan, Laura Fusco, Serap Yildiz, Lucia Delogu, Kamil Akcali, Kostas Kostarelos,* Açelya Yilmazer*

Nanotechnology can offer a number of options against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) acting both extracellularly and intracellularly to the host cells. Here, the aim is to explore graphene oxide (GO), the most studied 2D nanomaterial in biomedical applications, as a nanoscale platform for interaction with SARS-CoV-2. Molecular docking analyses of GO sheets on interaction with three different structures: SARS-CoV-2 viral spike (open state – 6VYB or closed state – 6VXX), ACE2 (1R42), and the ACE2-bound spike complex (6M0J) are performed. GO shows high affinity for the surface of all three structures (6M0J, 6VYB and 6VXX). When binding affinities and involved bonding types are compared, GO interacts more strongly with the spike or ACE2, compared to 6M0J. Infection experiments using infectious viral particles from four different clades as classified by Global Initiative on Sharing all Influenza Data (GISAID), are performed for validation purposes. Thin, biological-grade GO nanoscale (few hundred nanometers in lateral dimension) sheets are able to significantly reduce copies for three different viral clades. This data has demonstrated that GO sheets have the capacity to interact with SARS-CoV-2 surface components and disrupt infectivity even in the presence of any mutations on the viral spike. GO nanosheets are proposed to be further explored as a nanoscale platform for development of antiviral strategies against COVID-19.

Download article