Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Nov 16;118(49):e2112457118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2112457118. PMID: 34772761
Many phylogenetically distant animal viruses, including the new coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, have surface proteins with polybasic sites that are cleaved by host furin and furin-like proteases. Other than priming certain viral surface proteins for fusion, cleavage generates a carboxy-terminal RXXR sequence. This C-end Rule (CendR) motif is known to bind to neuropilin (NRP) receptors on the cell surface. NRPs are ubiquitously expressed, pleiotropic cell surface receptors with important roles in growth factor signaling, vascular biology, and neurobiology, as well as immune homeostasis and activation. The CendR-NRP receptor interaction promotes endocytic internalization and tissue spreading of different cargo, including viral particles. We propose that the interaction between viral surface proteins and NRPs plays an underappreciated and prevalent role in the transmission and pathogenesis of diverse viruses and represents a promising broad-spectrum antiviral target.