SARS-CoV-2 contributes to altering the post-transcriptional regulatory networks across human tissues by sponging RNA binding proteins and micro-RNAs
The outbreak of a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 responsible for COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide public health emergency. Due to the constantly evolving nature of the coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 mediated alteration on post-transcriptional gene regulation across human tissues remains elusive. In this study, we systematically dissected the crosstalk and dysregulation of human post-transcriptional regulatory networks governed by RNA binding proteins (RBPs) and micro-RNAs (miRs), due to
... infection. We uncovered that 13 out of 29 SARS-CoV- 2 encoded proteins directly interact with 51 human RBPs of which majority of them were abundantly expressed in gonadal tissues and immune cells. We further performed functional analysis of differentially expressed genes in mock treated versus SARS-CoV-2 infected lung cells that revealed an enrichment for immune response, cytokine mediated signaling, and metabolism associated genes. This study also characterized the alternative splicing events in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells compared to control demonstrating that skipped exons and mutually exclusive exons were the most abundant events that potentially contributed to differential outcomes in response to viral infection. Motif enrichment analysis on the RNA genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 clearly revealed an enrichment for RBPs such as SRSFs, PCBPs, ELAVs and HNRNPs illustrating the sponging of RBPs by SARS-CoV-2 genome. Similar analysis to study the interactions of miRs with SARS-CoV-2 revealed the potential for several miRs to be sponged, suggesting that these interactions may contribute to altered pos-transcriptional regulation across human tissues. Given the need to understand the interactions of SARS-CoV-2 with key pos-transcriptional regulators in the human genome, this study provides a systematic analysis to dissect the role of dysregulated post-transcriptional regulatory networks controlled by RBPs and miRs, across tissues types during SARS-CoV2 infection.