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Sci Rep ; 11(1): 23928, 2021 12 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585797


Identification of transcriptional regulatory mechanisms and signaling networks involved in the response of host cells to infection by SARS-CoV-2 is a powerful approach that provides a systems biology view of gene expression programs involved in COVID-19 and may enable the identification of novel therapeutic targets and strategies to mitigate the impact of this disease. In this study, our goal was to identify a transcriptional regulatory network that is associated with gene expression changes between samples infected by SARS-CoV-2 and those that are infected by other respiratory viruses to narrow the results on those enriched or specific to SARS-CoV-2. We combined a series of recently developed computational tools to identify transcriptional regulatory mechanisms involved in the response of epithelial cells to infection by SARS-CoV-2, and particularly regulatory mechanisms that are specific to this virus when compared to other viruses. In addition, using network-guided analyses, we identified kinases associated with this network. The results identified pathways associated with regulation of inflammation (MAPK14) and immunity (BTK, MBX) that may contribute to exacerbate organ damage linked with complications of COVID-19. The regulatory network identified herein reflects a combination of known hits and novel candidate pathways supporting the novel computational pipeline presented herein to quickly narrow down promising avenues of investigation when facing an emerging and novel disease such as COVID-19.

COVID-19/genetics , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Sequence Analysis, RNA/methods , A549 Cells , Cell Line , Epithelial Cells/chemistry , Epithelial Cells/cytology , Epithelial Cells/virology , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Models, Biological , Systems Biology
PLoS Comput Biol ; 17(3): e1008810, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1121603


Abnormal coagulation and an increased risk of thrombosis are features of severe COVID-19, with parallels proposed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a life-threating condition associated with hyperinflammation. The presence of HLH was described in severely ill patients during the H1N1 influenza epidemic, presenting with pulmonary vascular thrombosis. We tested the hypothesis that genes causing primary HLH regulate pathways linking pulmonary thromboembolism to the presence of SARS-CoV-2 using novel network-informed computational algorithms. This approach led to the identification of Neutrophils Extracellular Traps (NETs) as plausible mediators of vascular thrombosis in severe COVID-19 in children and adults. Taken together, the network-informed analysis led us to propose the following model: the release of NETs in response to inflammatory signals acting in concert with SARS-CoV-2 damage the endothelium and direct platelet-activation promoting abnormal coagulation leading to serious complications of COVID-19. The underlying hypothesis is that genetic and/or environmental conditions that favor the release of NETs may predispose individuals to thrombotic complications of COVID-19 due to an increase risk of abnormal coagulation. This would be a common pathogenic mechanism in conditions including autoimmune/infectious diseases, hematologic and metabolic disorders.

COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/genetics , Extracellular Traps/genetics , Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic/complications , Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic/genetics , Models, Biological , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Thrombosis/etiology , Thrombosis/genetics , Algorithms , Cell Degranulation/genetics , Computational Biology , Gene Expression Regulation , Gene Regulatory Networks , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Humans , Pandemics , Protein Interaction Maps , Pulmonary Embolism/etiology , Pulmonary Embolism/genetics , Viral Proteins/genetics