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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.06.28.497919


TRIM7 catalyses the ubiquitination of multiple substrates with unrelated biological functions. This cross-reactivity is at odds with the specificity usually displayed by enzymes, including ubiquitin ligases. Here we show that TRIM7s extreme substrate promiscuity is due to a highly unusual binding mechanism, in which the PRYSPRY domain captures any ligand with a C-terminal helix that terminates in a hydrophobic residue followed by a glutamine. Many of the non-structural proteins found in RNA viruses contain C-terminal glutamines as a result of polyprotein cleavage by 3C protease. This viral processing strategy generates novel substrates for TRIM7 and explains its ability to inhibit Coxsackie virus and norovirus replication. In addition to viral proteins, cellular proteins such as glycogenin have evolved C-termini that make them a TRIM7 substrate. The helix-FQ degron motif recognised by TRIM7 is reminiscent of the N-end degron system and is found in ~ 1% of cellular proteins. These features, together with TRIM7s restricted tissue expression and lack of immune regulation suggest that viral restriction may not be its physiological function.

biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.06.06.446826


Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the globally successful B.1.1.7 lineage, suggests viral adaptations to host selective pressures resulting in more efficient transmission. Although much effort has focused on Spike adaptation for viral entry and adaptive immune escape, B.1.1.7 mutations outside Spike likely contribute to enhance transmission. Here we used unbiased abundance proteomics, phosphoproteomics, mRNA sequencing and viral replication assays to show that B.1.1.7 isolates more effectively suppress host innate immune responses in airway epithelial cells. We found that B.1.1.7 isolates have dramatically increased subgenomic RNA and protein levels of Orf9b and Orf6, both known innate immune antagonists. Expression of Orf9b alone suppressed the innate immune response through interaction with TOM70, a mitochondrial protein required for RNA sensing adaptor MAVS activation, and Orf9b binding and activity was regulated via phosphorylation. We conclude that B.1.1.7 has evolved beyond the Spike coding region to more effectively antagonise host innate immune responses through upregulation of specific subgenomic RNA synthesis and increased protein expression of key innate immune antagonists. We propose that more effective innate immune antagonism increases the likelihood of successful B.1.1.7 transmission, and may increase in vivo replication and duration of infection.

researchsquare; 2021.


Understanding the drivers for spread of SARS-CoV-2 in higher education settings is important to limit transmission between students, and onward spread into at-risk populations. In this study, we prospectively sequenced 482 SARS-CoV-2 isolates derived from asymptomatic student screening and symptomatic testing of students and staff at the University of Cambridge from 5 October to 6 December 2020. We performed a detailed phylogenetic comparison with 972 isolates from the surrounding community, complemented with epidemiological and contact tracing data, to determine transmission dynamics. After a limited number of viral introductions into the university, the majority of student cases were linked to a single genetic cluster, likely dispersed across the university following social gatherings at a venue outside the university. We identified considerable onward transmission associated with student accommodation and courses; this was effectively contained using local infection control measures and dramatically reduced following a national lockdown. We observed that transmission clusters were largely segregated within the university or within the community. This study highlights key determinants of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and effective interventions in a higher education setting that will inform public health policy during pandemics.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.23.424229


Monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and reconstructing transmission chains has become a major public health focus for many governments around the world. The modest mutation rate and rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 prevents the reconstruction of transmission chains from consensus genome sequences, but within-host genetic diversity could theoretically help identify close contacts. Here we describe the patterns of within-host diversity in 1,181 SARS-CoV-2 samples sequenced to high depth in duplicate. 95% of samples show within-host mutations at detectable allele frequencies. Analyses of the mutational spectra revealed strong strand asymmetries suggestive of damage or RNA editing of the plus strand, rather than replication errors, dominating the accumulation of mutations during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Within and between host diversity show strong purifying selection, particularly against nonsense mutations. Recurrent within-host mutations, many of which coincide with known phylogenetic homoplasies, display a spectrum and patterns of purifying selection more suggestive of mutational hotspots than recombination or convergent evolution. While allele frequencies suggest that most samples result from infection by a single lineage, we identify multiple putative examples of co-infection. Integrating these results into an epidemiological inference framework, we find that while sharing of within-host variants between samples could help the reconstruction of transmission chains, mutational hotspots and rare cases of superinfection can confound these analyses.

Coinfection , Brain Diseases