Comparative transcriptome analyses reveal genes associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection of human lung epithelial cells

Academic Article


  • AbstractUnderstanding the molecular mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 infection (the cause of COVID-19) is a scientific priority for 2020. Various research groups are working toward development of vaccines and drugs, and many have published genomic and transcriptomic data related to this viral infection. The power inherent in publicly available data can be demonstrated via comparative transcriptome analyses. In the current study, we collected high-throughput gene expression data related to human lung epithelial cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 or other respiratory viruses (SARS, H1N1, rhinovirus, avian influenza, and Dhori) and compared the effect of these viruses on the human transcriptome. The analyses identified fifteen genes specifically expressed in cells transfected with SARS-CoV-2; these included CSF2 (colony-stimulating factor 2) and S100A8 and S100A9 (calcium-binding proteins), all of which are involved in lung/respiratory disorders. The analyses showed that genes involved in the Type1 interferon signaling pathway and the apoptosis process are commonly altered by infection of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses. Furthermore, results of protein-protein interaction analyses were consistent with a functional role of CSF2 in COVID-19 disease. In conclusion, our analysis has revealed cellular genes associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection of the human lung epithelium; these are potential therapeutic targets.
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    Author List

  • Chandrashekar DS; Manne U; Varambally S