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1.
Microbiol Spectr ; 10(2): e0018222, 2022 04 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1752768

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 transcribes a set of subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) essential for the translation of structural and accessory proteins to sustain its life cycle. We applied RNA-seq on 375 respiratory samples from individual COVID-19 patients and revealed that the majority of the sgRNAs were canonical transcripts with N being the most abundant (36.2%), followed by S (11.6%), open reading frame 7a (ORF7a; 10.3%), M (8.4%), ORF3a (7.9%), ORF8 (6.0%), E (4.6%), ORF6 (2.5%), and ORF7b (0.3%); but ORF10 was not detected. The profile of most sgRNAs, except N, showed an independent association with viral load, time of specimen collection after onset, age of the patient, and S-614D/G variant with ORF7b and then ORF6 being the most sensitive to changes in these characteristics. Monitoring of 124 serial samples from 10 patients using sgRNA-specific real-time RT-PCR revealed a potential of adopting sgRNA as a marker of viral activity. Respiratory samples harboring a full set of canonical sgRNAs were mainly collected early within 1 to 2 weeks from onset, and most of the stool samples (90%) were negative for sgRNAs despite testing positive by diagnostic PCR targeting genomic RNA. ORF7b was the first to become undetectable and again being the most sensitive surrogate marker for a full set of canonical sgRNAs in clinical samples. The potential of using sgRNA to monitor viral activity and progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and hence as one of the objective indicators to triage patients for isolation and treatment should be considered. IMPORTANCE Attempts to use subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) of SARS-CoV-2 to identify active infection of COVID-19 have produced diverse results. In this work, we applied next-generation sequencing and RT-PCR to profile the full spectrum of SARS-CoV-2 sgRNAs in a large cohort of respiratory and stool samples collected throughout infection. Numerous known and novel discontinuous transcription events potentially encoding full-length, deleted and frameshift proteins were observed. In particular, the expression profile of canonical sgRNAs was associated with genomic RNA level and clinical characteristics. Our study found sgRNAs as potential biomarkers for monitoring infectivity and progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which provides an alternative target for the management and treatment of COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Open Reading Frames , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Viral Load
2.
J Clin Virol Plus ; 2(1): 100062, 2022 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616571

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Little is known whether differences exist in virus shedding, immune and inflammatory response related to SARS-CoV-2 in people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLWH). We assessed viral RNA and cytokine profiles of HIV and SARS-CoV-2 coinfection in Hong Kong. Methods: PLWH hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 infection in Hong Kong were included, compared with age-matched and disease severity-matched SARS-CoV-2 infected controls (ratio of 1:5) from February 1st 2020 to July 31st 2020. SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed by public health laboratory and virus concentration was quantified by an in-house real-time reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. A panel of cytokines and chemokines were performed. Results: HIV patients had a similar respiratory shedding profile compared to controls. Duration of faecal shedding of patient A, B, C and D were at least 9, 10, 33, and 11 days, respectively. HIV patients had lower plasma levels of IL-10 and NT-pro-BNP. All 4 PLWH cases showed seroconversion to SARS-CoV-2 with anti-SARS-CoV-2 S antibodies detected in serum collected between day 18 and 30 after symptom onset. Conclusions: PLWH behaves similarly with HIV-negative controls in respiratory viral load, but with decrease in IL-10 and NT-proBNP. PLWH may have a lower risk of immunostimulatory effect due to lower IL-10.

3.
mBio ; 12(5): e0268721, 2021 10 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1494975

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus with emerging mutations, especially on the Spike glycoprotein (S protein). To delineate the genomic diversity in association with geographic dispersion of SARS-CoV-2 variant lineages, we collected 939,591 complete S protein sequences deposited in the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) from December 2019 to April 2021. An exponential emergence of S protein variants was observed since October 2020 when the four major variants of concern (VOCs), namely, alpha (α) (B.1.1.7), beta (ß) (B.1.351), gamma (γ) (P.1), and delta (δ) (B.1.617), started to circulate in various communities. We found that residues 452, 477, 484, and 501, the 4 key amino acids located in the hACE2 binding domain of S protein, were under positive selection. Through in silico protein structure prediction and immunoinformatics tools, we discovered D614G is the key determinant to S protein conformational change, while variations of N439K, T478I, E484K, and N501Y in S1-RBD also had an impact on S protein binding affinity to hACE2 and antigenicity. Finally, we predicted that the yet-to-be-identified hypothetical N439S, T478S, and N501K mutations could confer an even greater binding affinity to hACE2 and evade host immune surveillance more efficiently than the respective native variants. This study documented the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 S protein over the first 16 months of the pandemic and identified several key amino acid changes that are predicted to confer a substantial impact on transmission and immunological recognition. These findings convey crucial information to sequence-based surveillance programs and the design of next-generation vaccines. IMPORTANCE Our study showed the global distribution of SARS-CoV-2 S protein variants from January 2020 to the end of April 2021. We highlighted the key amino acids of S protein subjected to positive selection. Using computer-aided approaches, we predicted the impact of the amino acid variations in S protein on viral infectivity and antigenicity. We also predicted the potential amino acid mutations that could arise in favor of SARS-CoV-2 virulence. These findings are vital for vaccine designing and anti-SARS-CoV-2 drug discovery in an effort to combat COVID-19.


Subject(s)
SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Phylogeny , Protein Binding , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Virulence
4.
Gut ; 70(2): 276-284, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-656013

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Although severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA was detected in faeces of patients with COVID-19, the activity and infectivity of the virus in the GI tract during disease course is largely unknown. We investigated temporal transcriptional activity of SARS-CoV-2 and its association with longitudinal faecal microbiome alterations in patients with COVID-19. DESIGN: We performed RNA shotgun metagenomics sequencing on serial faecal viral extractions from 15 hospitalised patients with COVID-19. Sequencing coverage of the SARS-CoV-2 genome was quantified. We assessed faecal microbiome composition and microbiome functionality in association with signatures of faecal SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. RESULTS: Seven (46.7%) of 15 patients with COVID-19 had stool positivity for SARS-CoV-2 by viral RNA metagenomic sequencing. Even in the absence of GI manifestations, all seven patients showed strikingly higher coverage (p=0.0261) and density (p=0.0094) of the 3' vs 5' end of SARS-CoV-2 genome in their faecal viral metagenome profile. Faecal viral metagenome of three patients continued to display active viral infection signature (higher 3' vs 5' end coverage) up to 6 days after clearance of SARS-CoV-2 from respiratory samples. Faecal samples with signature of high SARS-CoV-2 infectivity had higher abundances of bacterial species Collinsella aerofaciens, Collinsella tanakaei, Streptococcus infantis, Morganella morganii, and higher functional capacity for nucleotide de novo biosynthesis, amino acid biosynthesis and glycolysis, whereas faecal samples with signature of low-to-none SARS-CoV-2 infectivity had higher abundances of short-chain fatty acid producing bacteria, Parabacteroides merdae, Bacteroides stercoris, Alistipes onderdonkii and Lachnospiraceae bacterium 1_1_57FAA. CONCLUSION: This pilot study provides evidence for active and prolonged 'quiescent' GI infection even in the absence of GI manifestations and after recovery from respiratory infection of SARS-CoV-2. Gut microbiota of patients with active SARS-CoV-2 GI infection was characterised by enrichment of opportunistic pathogens, loss of salutary bacteria and increased functional capacity for nucleotide and amino acid biosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/microbiology , Feces/microbiology , Feces/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/diagnosis , Female , Gastrointestinal Microbiome , Hospitalization , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Pilot Projects , Prospective Studies , Young Adult
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