The SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Activates the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-Mediated Signaling

Abdul Rasheed Palakkott, Aysha Alneyadi, Khalid Muhammad, Ali Hussein Eid, Khaled M.A. Amiri, Mohammed Akli Ayoub, Rabah Iratni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic is caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). At the molecular and cellular levels, the SARS-CoV-2 uses its envelope glycoprotein, the spike S protein, to infect the target cells in the lungs via binding with their transmembrane receptor, the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Here, we wanted to investigate if other molecular targets and pathways may be used by SARS-CoV-2. We investigated the possibility of the spike 1 S protein and its receptor-binding domain (RBD) to target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and its downstream signaling pathway in vitro using the lung cancer cell line (A549 cells). Protein expression and phosphorylation were examined upon cell treatment with the recombinant full spike 1 S protein or RBD. We demonstrate for the first time the activation of EGFR by the Spike 1 protein associated with the phosphorylation of the canonical Extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2) and AKT kinases and an increase in survivin expression controlling the survival pathway. Our study suggests the putative implication of EGFR and its related signaling pathways in SARS-CoV-2 infectivity and COVID-19 pathology. This may open new perspectives in the treatment of COVID-19 patients by targeting EGFR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number768
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • COVID-19
  • EGFR
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spike
  • cancer
  • hijacking
  • signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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