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Basigin, or CD147, has been reported as a coreceptor used by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to invade host cells. Basigin also has a well-established role in Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection of human erythrocytes, where it is bound by one of the parasite's invasion ligands, reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 (RH5). Here, we sought to validate the claim that the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein can form a complex with basigin, using RH5-basigin as a positive control. Using recombinantly expressed proteins, size exclusion chromatography and surface plasmon resonance, we show that neither RBD nor full-length spike glycoprotein bind to recombinant human basigin (expressed in either Escherichia coli or mammalian cells). Further, polyclonal anti-basigin IgG did not block SARS-CoV-2 infection of Vero E6 cells. Given the immense interest in SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic targets to improve treatment options for those who become seriously ill with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we would caution the inclusion of basigin in this list on the basis of its reported direct interaction with SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein. IMPORTANCE Reducing the mortality and morbidity associated with COVID-19 remains a global health priority. Vaccines have proven highly effective at preventing infection and hospitalization, but efforts must continue to improve treatment options for those who still become seriously ill. Critical to these efforts is the identification of host factors that are essential to viral entry and replication. Basigin, or CD147, was previously identified as a possible therapeutic target based on the observation that it may act as a coreceptor for SARS-CoV-2, binding to the receptor binding domain of the spike protein. Here, we show that there is no direct interaction between the RBD and basigin, casting doubt on its role as a coreceptor and plausibility as a therapeutic target.

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Jenner Institute, University of Oxfordgrid.4991.5, Oxford, United Kingdom.