SARS-CoV-2 entry factors are highly expressed in nasal epithelial cells together with innate immune genes.
ABSTRACT: We investigated SARS-CoV-2 potential tropism by surveying expression of viral entry-associated genes in single-cell RNA-sequencing data from multiple tissues from healthy human donors. We co-detected these transcripts in specific respiratory, corneal and intestinal epithelial cells, potentially explaining the high efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. These genes are co-expressed in nasal epithelial cells with genes involved in innate immunity, highlighting the cells' potential role in initial viral infection, spread and clearance. The study offers a useful resource for further lines of inquiry with valuable clinical samples from COVID-19 patients and we provide our data in a comprehensive, open and user-friendly fashion at www.covid19cellatlas.org.
Project description:The dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infection in COVID-19 patients are highly variable, with a subset of patients demonstrating prolonged virus shedding, which poses a significant challenge for disease management and transmission control. In this study, the long-term dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infection were investigated using a human well-differentiated nasal epithelial cell (NEC) model of infection. NECs were observed to release SARS-CoV-2 virus onto the apical surface for up to 28 days postinfection (dpi), further corroborated by viral antigen staining. Single-cell transcriptome sequencing (sc-seq) was utilized to explore the host response from infected NECs after short-term (3-dpi) and long-term (28-dpi) infection. We identified a unique population of cells harboring high viral loads present at both 3 and 28 dpi, characterized by expression of cell stress-related genes DDIT3 and ATF3 and enriched for genes involved in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) signaling and apoptosis. Remarkably, this sc-seq analysis revealed an antiviral gene signature within all NEC cell types even at 28 dpi. We demonstrate increased replication of basal cells, absence of widespread cell death within the epithelial monolayer, and the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to replicate despite a continuous interferon response as factors likely contributing to SARS-CoV-2 persistence. This study provides a model system for development of therapeutics aimed at improving viral clearance in immunocompromised patients and implies a crucial role for immune cells in mediating viral clearance from infected epithelia. <b>IMPORTANCE</b> Increasing medical attention has been drawn to the persistence of symptoms (long-COVID syndrome) or live virus shedding from subsets of COVID-19 patients weeks to months after the initial onset of symptoms. <i>In vitro</i> approaches to model viral or symptom persistence are needed to fully dissect the complex and likely varied mechanisms underlying these clinical observations. We show that <i>in vitro</i> differentiated human NECs are persistently infected with SARS-CoV-2 for up to 28 dpi. This viral replication occurred despite the presence of an antiviral gene signature across all NEC cell types even at 28 dpi. This indicates that epithelial cell intrinsic antiviral responses are insufficient for the clearance of SARS-CoV-2, implying an essential role for tissue-resident and infiltrating immune cells for eventual viral clearance from infected airway tissue in COVID-19 patients.
Project description:Viruses hijack host cell metabolism to acquire the building blocks required for viral replication. Understanding how SARS-CoV-2 alters host cell metabolism could lead to potential treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here we profile metabolic changes conferred by SARS-CoV-2 infection in kidney epithelial cells and lung air-liquid interface cultures and show that SARS-CoV-2 infection increases glucose carbon entry into the TCA cycle via increased pyruvate carboxylase expression. SARS-CoV-2 also reduces host cell oxidative glutamine metabolism while maintaining reductive carboxylation. Consistent with these changes in host cell metabolism, we show that SARS-CoV-2 increases activity of mTORC1, a master regulator of anabolic metabolism, in cell lines and patient lung stem cell-derived airway epithelial cells. We also show evidence of mTORC1 activation in COVID-19 patient lung tissue. Notably, mTORC1 inhibitors reduce viral replication in kidney epithelial cells and patient-derived lung stem cell cultures. This suggests that targeting mTORC1 could be a useful antiviral strategy for SARS-CoV-2 and treatment strategy for COVID-19 patients, although further studies are required to determine the mechanism of inhibition and potential efficacy in patients.
Project description:The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the etiologic agent responsible for COVID-19 coronavirus disease, is a global threat. To better understand viral tropism, we assessed the RNA expression of the coronavirus receptor, <i>ACE2</i>, as well as the viral S protein priming protease <i>TMPRSS2</i> thought to govern viral entry in single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) datasets from healthy individuals generated by the Human Cell Atlas consortium. We found that <i>ACE2</i>, as well as the protease <i>TMPRSS2</i>, are differentially expressed in respiratory and gut epithelial cells. In-depth analysis of epithelial cells in the respiratory tree reveals that nasal epithelial cells, specifically goblet/secretory cells and ciliated cells, display the highest <i>ACE2</i> expression of all the epithelial cells analyzed. The skewed expression of viral receptors/entry-associated proteins towards the upper airway may be correlated with enhanced transmissivity. Finally, we showed that many of the top genes associated with <i>ACE2</i> airway epithelial expression are innate immune-associated, antiviral genes, highly enriched in the nasal epithelial cells. This association with immune pathways might have clinical implications for the course of infection and viral pathology, and highlights the specific significance of nasal epithelia in viral infection. Our findings underscore the importance of the availability of the Human Cell Atlas as a reference dataset. In this instance, analysis of the compendium of data points to a particularly relevant role for nasal goblet and ciliated cells as early viral targets and potential reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2 infection. This, in turn, serves as a biological framework for dissecting viral transmission and developing clinical strategies for prevention and therapy.
Project description:<h4>Background:</h4> SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease severity are influenced by viral entry (VE) gene expression patterns in airway epithelium. The similarities and differences of VE gene expression (ACE2, TMPRSS2, and CTSL) across nasal and bronchial compartments has not been fully characterized using matched samples from large cohorts. <h4>Results:</h4> Gene expression data from 793 nasal and 1,673 bronchial brushes obtained from individuals participating in lung cancer screening or diagnostic workup revealed that smoking was the only clinical factor significantly and reproducibly associated with VE gene expression. ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression were higher in smokers in the bronchus but not in the nose. scRNA-seq of nasal brushings indicated that ACE2 co-expressed genes were highly expressed in club and C15orf48+ secretory cells while TMPRSS2 co-expressed genes were highly expressed in keratinizing epithelial cells. In contrast, these ACE2 and TMPRSS2 modules were highly expressed in goblet cells in scRNA-seq from bronchial brushings. Cell-type deconvolution of the RNA-seq confirmed that smoking increased the abundance of several secretory cell populations in the bronchus, but only goblet cells in the nose. <h4>Conclusions:</h4> The association of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 with smoking in the bronchus is due to their high expression in goblet cells which increase in abundance in current smoker airways. In contrast, in the nose these genes are not predominantly expressed in cell populations modulated by smoking. Smoking-induced VE gene expression changes in the nose likely has minimal impact on SARS-CoV-2 infection, but in the bronchus, smoking may lead to higher viral loads and more severe disease.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>From the first detection in 2019, SARS-CoV-2 infections have spread rapidly worldwide and have been proven to cause an urgent and important health problem. SARS-CoV-2 cell entry depends on two proteins present on the surface of host cells, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2). The nasal cavity is thought to be one of the initial sites of infection and a possible reservoir for dissemination within and between individuals. However, it is not known how the expression of these genes is regulated in the nasal mucosa.<h4>Objective</h4>In this study, we examined whether the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 is affected by innate immune signals in the nasal mucosa. We also investigated how fluticasone propionate (FP), a corticosteroid used as an intranasal steroid spray, affects the gene expression.<h4>Methods</h4>Primary human nasal epithelial cells (HNECs) were collected from the nasal mucosa and incubated with Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists and/or fluticasone propionate (FP), followed by quantitative PCR, immunofluorescence, and immunoblot analyses.<h4>Results</h4>Among the TLR agonists, the TLR3 agonist Poly(I:C) significantly increased ACE2 and TMPRSS2 mRNA expression in HNECs (ACE2 36.212±11.600-fold change, p<0.0001; TMPRSS2 5.598±2.434-fold change, p=0.031). The ACE2 protein level was also increased with Poly(I:C) stimulation (2.884±0.505-fold change, p=0.003). The Poly(I:C)-induced ACE2 expression was suppressed by co-incubation with FP (0.405±0.312-fold change, p=0.044).<h4>Conclusion</h4>The activation of innate immune signals <i>via</i> TLR3 promotes the expression of genes related to SARS-CoV2 cell entry in the nasal mucosa, although this expression is suppressed in the presence of FP. Further studies are required to evaluate whether FP suppresses SARS-CoV-2 viral cell entry.
Project description:The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), a global healthcare and economic catastrophe. Understanding of the host immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is still in its infancy. A 382-nt deletion strain lacking ORF8 (?382 herein) was isolated in Singapore in March 2020. Infection with ?382 was associated with less severe disease in patients, compared to infection with wild-type SARS-CoV-2. Here, we established Nasal Epithelial cells (NECs) differentiated from healthy nasal-tissue derived stem cells as a suitable model for the ex-vivo study of SARS-CoV-2 mediated pathogenesis. Infection of NECs with either SARS-CoV-2 or ?382 resulted in virus particles released exclusively from the apical side, with similar replication kinetics. Screening of a panel of 49 cytokines for basolateral secretion from infected NECs identified CXCL10 as the only cytokine significantly induced upon infection, at comparable levels in both wild-type and ?382 infected cells. Transcriptome analysis revealed the temporal up-regulation of distinct gene subsets during infection, with anti-viral signaling pathways only detected at late time-points (72 hours post-infection, hpi). This immune response to SARS-CoV-2 was significantly attenuated when compared to infection with an influenza strain, H3N2, which elicited an inflammatory response within 8 hpi, and a greater magnitude of anti-viral gene up-regulation at late time-points. Remarkably, ?382 induced a host transcriptional response nearly identical to that of wild-type SARS-CoV-2 at every post-infection time-point examined. In accordance with previous results, ?382 infected cells showed an absence of transcripts mapping to ORF8, and conserved expression of other SARS-CoV-2 genes. Our findings shed light on the airway epithelial response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and demonstrate a non-essential role for ORF8 in modulating host gene expression and cytokine production from infected cells.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as a new human pathogen in late 2019 and it has infected over 100 million people in less than a year. There is a clear need for effective antiviral drugs to complement current preventive measures, including vaccines. In this study, we demonstrate that berberine and obatoclax, two broad-spectrum antiviral compounds, are effective against multiple isolates of SARS-CoV-2. Berberine, a plant-derived alkaloid, inhibited SARS-CoV-2 at low micromolar concentrations and obatoclax, which was originally developed as an anti-apoptotic protein antagonist, was effective at sub-micromolar concentrations. Time-of-addition studies indicated that berberine acts on the late stage of the viral life cycle. In agreement, berberine mildly affected viral RNA synthesis, but it strongly reduced infectious viral titers, leading to an increase in the particle-to-pfu ratio. In contrast, obatoclax acted at the early stage of the infection, which is in line with its activity to neutralize the acidic environment in endosomes. We assessed infection of primary human nasal epithelial cells that were cultured on an air-liquid interface and found that SARS-CoV-2 infection induced and repressed expression of specific sets of cytokines and chemokines. Moreover, both obatoclax and berberine inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in these primary target cells. We propose berberine and obatoclax as potential antiviral drugs against SARS-CoV-2 that could be considered for further efficacy testing.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Early metabolic reorganization was only recently recognized as an essentially integrated part of immunology. In this context, unbalanced ROS/RNS levels connected to increased aerobic fermentation, which is linked to alpha-tubulin-based cell restructuring and control of cell cycle progression, were identified as a major complex trait for early de novo programming ('CoV-MAC-TED') during SARS-CoV-2 infection. This trait was highlighted as a critical target for developing early anti-viral/anti-SARS-CoV-2 strategies. To obtain this result, analyses had been performed on transcriptome data from diverse experimental cell systems. A call was released for wide data collection of the defined set of genes for transcriptome analyses, named 'ReprogVirus', which should be based on strictly standardized protocols and data entry from diverse virus types and variants into the 'ReprogVirus Platform'. This platform is currently under development. However, so far, an in vitro cell system from primary target cells for virus attacks that could ideally serve for standardizing the data collection of early SARS-CoV-2 infection responses has not been defined.<h4>Results</h4>Here, we demonstrate transcriptome-level profiles of the most critical 'ReprogVirus' gene sets for identifying 'CoV-MAC-TED' in cultured human nasal epithelial cells infected by two SARS-CoV-2 variants differing in disease severity. Our results (a) validate 'Cov-MAC-TED' as a crucial trait for early SARS-CoV-2 reprogramming for the tested virus variants and (b) demonstrate its relevance in cultured human nasal epithelial cells.<h4>Conclusion</h4>In vitro-cultured human nasal epithelial cells proved to be appropriate for standardized transcriptome data collection in the 'ReprogVirus Platform'. Thus, this cell system is highly promising to advance integrative data analyses with the help of artificial intelligence methodologies for designing anti-SARS-CoV-2 strategies.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>DNA methylation patterns of the human genome can be modified by environmental stimuli and provide dense information on gene regulatory circuitries. We studied genome-wide DNA methylation in nasal samples from infants (<6 months) applying whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) to characterize epigenome response to 10 different respiratory viral infections including SARS-CoV-2.<h4>Results</h4>We identified virus-specific differentially methylated regions (vDMR) with human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and SARS-CoV-2 followed by Influenza B (Flu B) causing the weakest vs. strongest epigenome response with 496 vs. 78541 and 14361 vDMR, respectively. We found a strong replication rate of FluB (52%) and SARS-CoV-2 (42%) vDMR in independent samples indicating robust epigenome perturbation upon infection. Among the FluB and SARS-CoV-2 vDMRs, around 70% were hypomethylated and significantly enriched among epithelial cell-specific regulatory elements whereas the hypermethylated vDMRs for these viruses mapped more frequently to immune cell regulatory elements, especially those of the myeloid lineage. The hypermethylated vDMRs were also enriched among genes and genetic loci in monocyte activation pathways and monocyte count. Finally, we perform single-cell RNA-sequencing characterization of nasal mucosa in response to these two viruses to functionally analyze the epigenome perturbations. Which supports the trends we identified in methylation data and highlights and important role for monocytes.<h4>Conclusions</h4>All together, we find evidence indicating genetic predisposition to innate immune response upon a respiratory viral infection. Our genome-wide monitoring of infant viral response provides first catalogue of associated host regulatory elements. Assessing epigenetic variation in individual patients may reveal evidence for viral triggers of childhood disease.
Project description:Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that causes fatal disorders including severe pneumonia. To develop a therapeutic drug for COVID-19, a model that can reproduce the viral life cycle and can evaluate the drug efficacy of anti-viral drugs is essential. In this study, we established a method to generate human bronchial organoids (hBO) from commercially available cryopreserved primary human bronchial epithelial cells (hBEpC) and examined whether they could be used as a model for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) research. The hBO were found to contain basal, club, ciliated, and goblet cells. Also, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is a receptor for SARS-CoV-2, and transmembrane serine proteinase 2 (TMPRSS2), which is an essential serine protease for priming spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, were highly expressed. After hBO were infected with SARS-CoV-2, remarkable amplification of the viral genome and the expression of spike protein of the virus was confirmed. In addition, cytotoxicity and pyknosis cells were observed due to the virus infection. Furthermore, treatment with camostat, an inhibitor of TMPRSS2, reduced the viral copy number to 2% of the control group. RNA-seq analyses revealed genes whose expression was altered by SARS-CoV-2 infection and camostat treatment. These results suggest that our hBO are acceptable for SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication, but also can be used as a model for COVID-19 drug discovery. Overall design: Total RNA was isolated from human bronchial organoids, primary human bronchial epithelial cells, and A549 cell, and then RNA-seq was performed. The human bronchial organoids were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the presence of absence of camostat. At 5 days after the infection, total RNA was collected and RNA-seq was performed.