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Microbiol Spectr ; 10(2): e0018222, 2022 04 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1752768


SARS-CoV-2 transcribes a set of subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) essential for the translation of structural and accessory proteins to sustain its life cycle. We applied RNA-seq on 375 respiratory samples from individual COVID-19 patients and revealed that the majority of the sgRNAs were canonical transcripts with N being the most abundant (36.2%), followed by S (11.6%), open reading frame 7a (ORF7a; 10.3%), M (8.4%), ORF3a (7.9%), ORF8 (6.0%), E (4.6%), ORF6 (2.5%), and ORF7b (0.3%); but ORF10 was not detected. The profile of most sgRNAs, except N, showed an independent association with viral load, time of specimen collection after onset, age of the patient, and S-614D/G variant with ORF7b and then ORF6 being the most sensitive to changes in these characteristics. Monitoring of 124 serial samples from 10 patients using sgRNA-specific real-time RT-PCR revealed a potential of adopting sgRNA as a marker of viral activity. Respiratory samples harboring a full set of canonical sgRNAs were mainly collected early within 1 to 2 weeks from onset, and most of the stool samples (90%) were negative for sgRNAs despite testing positive by diagnostic PCR targeting genomic RNA. ORF7b was the first to become undetectable and again being the most sensitive surrogate marker for a full set of canonical sgRNAs in clinical samples. The potential of using sgRNA to monitor viral activity and progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and hence as one of the objective indicators to triage patients for isolation and treatment should be considered. IMPORTANCE Attempts to use subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) of SARS-CoV-2 to identify active infection of COVID-19 have produced diverse results. In this work, we applied next-generation sequencing and RT-PCR to profile the full spectrum of SARS-CoV-2 sgRNAs in a large cohort of respiratory and stool samples collected throughout infection. Numerous known and novel discontinuous transcription events potentially encoding full-length, deleted and frameshift proteins were observed. In particular, the expression profile of canonical sgRNAs was associated with genomic RNA level and clinical characteristics. Our study found sgRNAs as potential biomarkers for monitoring infectivity and progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which provides an alternative target for the management and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Open Reading Frames , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Viral Load
J Clin Virol Plus ; 2(1): 100062, 2022 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616571


Objectives: Little is known whether differences exist in virus shedding, immune and inflammatory response related to SARS-CoV-2 in people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLWH). We assessed viral RNA and cytokine profiles of HIV and SARS-CoV-2 coinfection in Hong Kong. Methods: PLWH hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 infection in Hong Kong were included, compared with age-matched and disease severity-matched SARS-CoV-2 infected controls (ratio of 1:5) from February 1st 2020 to July 31st 2020. SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed by public health laboratory and virus concentration was quantified by an in-house real-time reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. A panel of cytokines and chemokines were performed. Results: HIV patients had a similar respiratory shedding profile compared to controls. Duration of faecal shedding of patient A, B, C and D were at least 9, 10, 33, and 11 days, respectively. HIV patients had lower plasma levels of IL-10 and NT-pro-BNP. All 4 PLWH cases showed seroconversion to SARS-CoV-2 with anti-SARS-CoV-2 S antibodies detected in serum collected between day 18 and 30 after symptom onset. Conclusions: PLWH behaves similarly with HIV-negative controls in respiratory viral load, but with decrease in IL-10 and NT-proBNP. PLWH may have a lower risk of immunostimulatory effect due to lower IL-10.