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EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-318395


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 a 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 RNAs from anonymized COVID-19 positive subjects and we found a recurrent and characteristic pattern of sgmRNAs expression in relation to the total viral RNA content. Further, we observed that expression profiles of sgmRNAs analyzed in a subset of 110 samples subjected to meta-transcriptomics sequencing were highly correlated with those obtained by ddPCR. Our results, providing a comprehensive and dynamic snapshot of SARS-CoV-2 sgmRNAs expression and replication, may contribute to provide a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 transcription and expression mechanisms, and support the development of more accurate molecular diagnostic tools and for the stratification of COVID-19 patients.