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biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.29.361261


The recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a surge of crowd-sourced initiatives aimed at simulating the proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A bottleneck currently exists in translating these simulations into tangible predictions that can be leveraged for pharmacological studies. Here we report on extensive electrostatic calculations done on an exascale simulation of the opening of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, performed by the Folding@home initiative. We compute the electric potential as the solution of the non-linear Poisson-Boltzmann equation using a parallel sharp numerical solver. The inherent multiple length scales present in the geometry and solution are reproduced using highly adaptive Octree grids. We analyze our results focusing on the electro-geometric properties of the receptor-binding domain and its vicinity. This work paves the way for a new class of hybrid computational and data-enabled approaches, where molecular dynamics simulations are combined with continuum modeling to produce high-fidelity computational measurements serving as a basis for protein bio-mechanism investigations.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.29.360479


Dysfunctional immune response in the COVID-19 patients is a recurrent theme impacting symptoms and mortality, yet the detailed understanding of pertinent immune cells is not complete. We applied single-cell RNA sequencing to 284 samples from 205 COVID-19 patients and controls to create a comprehensive immune landscape. Lymphopenia and active T and B cell responses were found to coexist and associated with age, sex and their interactions with COVID-19. Diverse epithelial and immune cell types were observed to be virus-positive and showed dramatic transcriptomic changes. Elevation of ANXA1 and S100A9 in virus-positive squamous epithelial cells may enable the initiation of neutrophil and macrophage responses via the ANXA1-FPR1 and S100A8/9-TLR4 axes. Systemic up-regulation of S100A8/A9, mainly by megakaryocytes and monocytes in the peripheral blood, may contribute to the cytokine storms frequently observed in severe patients. Our data provide a rich resource for understanding the pathogenesis and designing effective therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.

Carcinoma, Squamous Cell , Lymphopenia , COVID-19
researchsquare; 2020.


Two typical features of uncontrolled inflammation, cytokine storm and lymphopenia, are associated with the severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), demonstrating that both innate and adaptive immune responses are involved in the development of this disease. Recent studies have explored the contribution of innate immune cells to the pathogenesis of the infection. However, the impact of adaptive immunity on this disease remains unknown. In order to clarify the role of adaptive immune response in COVID-19, we characterized the phenotypes of lymphocytes in PBMCs from patients at different disease stages using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technology. Dynamics of the effector cell levels in lymphocytes revealed a distinct feature of adaptive immunity in severely affected patients, the coincidence of impaired cellular and enhanced humoral immune responses, suggesting that dysregulated adaptive immune responses advanced severe COVID-19. Excessive activation and exhaustion were observed in CD8 T effector cells, which might contribute to the lymphopenia. Interestingly, expression of Prothymosin alpha (PTMA), the proprotein of Tα1, was significantly increased in a group of CD8 T memory stem cells, but not in excessively activated T cells. We further showed that Tα1 significantly promoted the proliferation of activated T cells in vitro and relieved the lymphopenia in COVID-19 patients. Our data suggest that protection of T cells from excessive activation might be critical for the prevention of severe COVID-19.

Inflammation , Lymphopenia , COVID-19