Disease X-19 Medical Review

Collection : COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv: Transcriptional response of signalling pathways to SARS-CoV-2 infection in normal human bronchial epithelial cells

Listen to this article
SARS-CoV-2 virus, the pathogen that causes Covid-19 disease, emerged in Wuhan region in China in 2019, infected more than 4M people and is responsible for death of at least 300K patients globally as of May 2020. Identification of the cellular response mechanisms to viral infection by SARS-CoV-2 may shed light on progress of the disease, indicate potential drug targets, and make design of new test methods possible. In this study, we analysed transcriptomic response of normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) to SARS-CoV-2 infection and compared the response to H1N1 infection. Comparison of transcriptome of NHBE cells 24 hours after mock-infection and SARS-CoV-2 infection demonstrated that most genes that respond to infection were upregulated (320 genes) rather than being downregulated (115 genes). While upregulated genes were enriched in signalling pathways related to virus response, downregulated genes are related to kidney development. We mapped the upregulated genes on KEGG pathways to identify the mechanisms that mediate the response. We identified canonical NF{kappa}B, TNF and IL-17 pathways to be significantly upregulated and to converge to NF{kappa}B pathway via positive feedback loops. Although virus entry protein ACE2 has low expression in NHBE cells, pathogen response pathways are strongly activated within 24 hours of infection. Our results also indicate that immune response system is activated at the early stage of the infection and orchestrated by a crosstalk of signalling pathways. Finally, we compared transcriptomic SARS-CoV-2 response to H1N1 response in NHBE cells to elucidate the virus specificity of the response and virus specific extracellular proteins expressed by NHBE cells.

Collection : COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv