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Commun Biol ; 4(1): 1215, 2021 10 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1479821


SARS-CoV-2 replication requires the synthesis of a set of structural proteins expressed through discontinuous transcription of ten subgenomic mRNAs (sgmRNAs). Here, we have fine-tuned droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assays to accurately detect and quantify SARS-CoV-2 genomic ORF1ab and sgmRNAs for the nucleocapsid (N) and spike (S) proteins. We analyzed 166 RNA samples from anonymized SARS-CoV-2 positive subjects and we observed a recurrent and characteristic pattern of sgmRNAs expression in relation to the total viral RNA content. Additionally, expression profiles of sgmRNAs, as determined by meta-transcriptomics sequencing of a subset of 110 RNA samples, were highly correlated with those obtained by ddPCR. By providing a comprehensive and dynamic snapshot of the levels of SARS-CoV-2 sgmRNAs in infected individuals, our results may contribute a better understanding of the dynamics of transcription and expression of the genome of SARS-CoV-2 and facilitate the development of more accurate molecular diagnostic tools for the stratification of COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/metabolism , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins , Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Transcriptome , Computational Biology , Humans , Limit of Detection , Open Reading Frames , Phosphoproteins , RNA, Messenger/metabolism , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reproducibility of Results