Dendrimer-Peptide Conjugates for Effective Blockade of the Interactions between SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein and Human ACE2 Receptor

Woo Jin Jeong, Jiyoon Bu, Philip Mickel, Yanxiao Han, Piper A. Rawding, Jianxin Wang, Hanbit Kang, Heejoo Hong, Petr Král, Seungpyo Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has threatened the stability of global healthcare, which is becoming an endemic issue. Despite the development of various treatment strategies to fight COVID-19, the currently available treatment options have shown varied efficacy. Herein, we have developed an avidity-based SARS-CoV-2 antagonist using dendrimer-peptide conjugates (DPCs) for effective COVID-19 treatment. Two different peptide fragments obtained from angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) were integrated into a single sequence, followed by the conjugation to poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimers. We hypothesized that the strong multivalent binding avidity endowed by dendrimers would help peptides effectively block the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and ACE2, and this antagonist effect would be dependent upon the generation (size) of the dendrimers. To assess this, binding kinetics of the DPCs prepared from generation 4 (G4) and G7 PAMAM dendrimers to spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 were quantitatively measured using surface plasmon resonance. The larger dendrimer-based DPCs exhibited significantly enhanced binding strength by 3 orders of magnitude compared to the free peptides, whereas the smaller one showed a 12.8-fold increase only. An in vitro assay using SARS-CoV-2-mimicking microbeads also showed the improved SARS-CoV-2 blockade efficiency of the G7-peptide conjugates compared to G4. In addition, the interaction between the DPCs and SARS-CoV-2 was analyzed using molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, providing an insight into how the dendrimer-mediated multivalent binding effect can enhance the SARS-CoV-2 blockade. Our findings demonstrate that the DPCs having strong binding to SARS-CoV-2 effectively block the interaction between ACE2 and SARS-CoV-2, providing a potential as a high-affinity drug delivery system to direct anti-COVID payloads to the virus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jan 9

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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