Genome-wide bioinformatic analyses predict key host and viral factors in SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis

Mariana G. Ferrarini, Avantika Lal, Rita Rebollo, Andreas J. Gruber, Andrea Guarracino, Itziar Martinez Gonzalez, Taylor Floyd, Daniel Siqueira de Oliveira, Justin Shanklin, Ethan Beausoleil, Taneli Pusa, Brett E. Pickett, Vanessa Aguiar-Pulido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The novel betacoronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused a worldwide pandemic (COVID-19) after emerging in Wuhan, China. Here we analyzed public host and viral RNA sequencing data to better understand how SARS-CoV-2 interacts with human respiratory cells. We identified genes, isoforms and transposable element families that are specifically altered in SARS-CoV-2-infected respiratory cells. Well-known immunoregulatory genes including CSF2, IL32, IL-6 and SERPINA3 were differentially expressed, while immunoregulatory transposable element families were upregulated. We predicted conserved interactions between the SARS-CoV-2 genome and human RNA-binding proteins such as the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1) and eukaryotic initiation factor 4 (eIF4b). We also identified a viral sequence variant with a statistically significant skew associated with age of infection, that may contribute to intracellular host–pathogen interactions. These findings can help identify host mechanisms that can be targeted by prophylactics and/or therapeutics to reduce the severity of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number590
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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