Ribosome-profiling reveals restricted post transcriptional ex-pression of antiviral cytokines and transcription factors during SARS-CoV-2 infection

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Author Name

Marina R Alexander

Aaron M. Brice

Christina L. Rootes


Leon Tribolet

Christopher Cowled

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The global COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in over 2.2 million deaths. Disease outcomes range from asymptomatic to severe with, so far, minimal genotypic change to the virus so understanding the host response is paramount. Transcriptomics has become incredibly important in understanding host-pathogen interactions; however, post-transcriptional regulation plays an important role in infection and immunity through translation and mRNA stability, allowing tight control over potent host responses by both the host and the invading virus. Here we apply ribosome profiling to assess post-transcriptional regulation of host genes during SARS-CoV-2 infection of a human lung epithelial cell line (Calu-3). We have identified numerous transcription factors (JUN, ZBTB20, ATF3, HIVEP2 and EGR1) as well as select antiviral cytokine genes, namely IFNB1, IFNL1,2 and 3, IL-6 and CCL5, that are restricted at the post-transcriptional level by SARS-CoV-2 infection and discuss the impact this would have on the host response to infection. This early phase restriction of antiviral transcripts in the lungs may allow high viral load and consequent immune dysregulation typically seen in SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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