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medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.05.05.21256681


Cell autonomous antiviral defenses can inhibit the replication of viruses and reduce transmission and disease severity. To better understand the antiviral response to SARS-CoV-2, we used interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression screening to reveal that OAS1, through RNase L, potently inhibits SARS-CoV-2. We show that while some people can express a prenylated OAS1 variant, that is membrane-associated and blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection, other people express a cytosolic, nonprenylated OAS1 variant which does not detect SARS-CoV-2 (determined by the splice-acceptor SNP Rs10774671). Alleles encoding nonprenylated OAS1 predominate except in people of African descent. Importantly, in hospitalized patients, expression of prenylated OAS1 was associated with protection from severe COVID-19, suggesting this antiviral defense is a major component of a protective antiviral response. Remarkably, approximately 55 million years ago, retrotransposition ablated the OAS1 prenylation signal in horseshoe bats (the presumed source of SARS-CoV-2). Thus, SARS-CoV-2 never had to adapt to evade this defense. As prenylated OAS1 is widespread in animals, the billions of people that lack a prenylated OAS1 could make humans particularly vulnerable to the spillover of coronaviruses from horseshoe bats.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.29.424739


The clinical outcome of COVID-19 has an extreme age, genetic and comorbidity bias that is thought to be driven by an impaired immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the disease. The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on global health has resulted in multiple studies generating a variety of large gene expression datasets in a relatively short period of time. In order to better understand the immune dysregulation induced by SARS-CoV-2, we carried out a meta-analysis of these transcriptomics data available in the published literature. Datasets included both those available from SARS-CoV-2 infected cell lines in vitro and those from patient samples. We focused our analysis on the identification of viral perturbed host functions as captured by co-expressed gene module analysis. Transcriptomics data from lung biopsies and nasopharyngeal samples, as opposed to those available from other clinical samples and infected cell lines, provided key signatures on the role of the host's immune response on COVID-19 pathogenesis. For example, severity of infection and patients' age are linked to the absence of stimulation of the RIG-I-like receptor signaling pathway, a known critical immediate line of defense against RNA viral infections that triggers type-I interferon responses. In addition, co-expression analysis of age-stratified transcriptional data provided evidence that signatures of key immune response pathways are perturbed in older COVID-19 patients. In particular, dysregulation of antigen-presenting components, down-regulation of cell cycle mechanisms and signatures of hyper-enriched monocytes were strongly correlated with the age of older individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, our meta-analysis highlights the ability of transcriptomics and gene-module analysis of aggregated datasets to aid our improved understanding of the host-specific disease mechanisms underpinning COVID-19.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , COVID-19