APR 20, 2021 7:30 AM PDT

Scientists Map the Genetic Landscape of COVID Infections

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Scientists have identified 65 human immune genes activated during SARS-CoV-2 infection. This finding provides valuable insights into why some individuals experience more severe COVID symptoms than others and paves the way for novel therapeutic interventions.

The study, published in Molecular Cell, was led by Sumit K. Chanda and colleagues from Sanford Burnham Prebys. They found that interferon-stimulated genes, or ISGs, play a key role in determining COVID severity. Interferons are signaling proteins that are central to the body’s ability to protect itself from viral attacks.

"We wanted to gain a better understanding of the cellular response to SARS-CoV-2, including what drives a strong or weak response to infection," said Chanda.

"We've gained new insights into how the virus exploits the human cells it invades, but we are still searching for its Achilles heel so that we can develop optimal antivirals."

The researchers found that a panel of 65 ISGs controlled the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a multifaceted way, inhibiting the coronavirus’ ability to invade cells and stopping the virus from replicating in human cells.

"We identified eight ISGs that inhibited both SARS-CoV-1 and CoV-2 replication in the subcellular compartment responsible for protein packaging, suggesting this vulnerable site could be exploited to clear the viral infection," said the study’s first author, Laura Martin-Sancho.

"This is important information, but we still need to learn more about the biology of the virus and investigate if genetic variability within these ISGs correlates with COVID-19 severity."

The team plans to expand the study by investigating the infection dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 variants, focusing on how these may undercut vaccination efforts. "It's vitally important that we don't take our foot off the pedal of basic research efforts now that vaccines are helping control the pandemic," commented Chanda. 

 




Sources: EurekAlert, Molecular Cell.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
DEC 27, 2020
Immunology
Thymus Transplantation?! It Could be Possible!
DEC 27, 2020
Thymus Transplantation?! It Could be Possible!
The thymus is an essential organ of the lymphatic system; it is responsible for developing mature T cells. T c ...
DEC 28, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Mapping Networks of Gene Expression in Cells
DEC 28, 2020
Mapping Networks of Gene Expression in Cells
Every cell contains our whole genome, but not all genes are turned on all the time; gene expression has to be very caref ...
DEC 28, 2020
Immunology
What Happens When Your Immune System Works Against You?!
DEC 28, 2020
What Happens When Your Immune System Works Against You?!
Our immune system is our army against any molecule that wants to invade our bodies like viruses, bacteria, and cancer. I ...
JAN 27, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Do Vaccines Work Against New Covid Variants?
JAN 27, 2021
Do Vaccines Work Against New Covid Variants?
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is mutating faster than scientists previously thought. As such, pharmaceutical companies are now sc ...
APR 15, 2021
Immunology
COVID Vaccines Protect Breastfeeding Babies Too
APR 15, 2021
COVID Vaccines Protect Breastfeeding Babies Too
Good news for families of newborns: A new study shows that breastfeeding mothers who receive a COVID vaccine share prote ...
APR 11, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Trial Shows Personalized Cancer Vaccines are Safe
APR 11, 2021
Trial Shows Personalized Cancer Vaccines are Safe
Vaccines are mostly known as tools to prevent illness. But cancer vaccines are a bit different, and aim to treat existin ...
Loading Comments...