Despite limited genomic diversity, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has shown a wide range of clinical manifestations in different patient populations. The mechanisms behind these host differences are still unclear. Here, we examined host response gene expression across infection status, viral load, age, and sex among shotgun RNA sequencing profiles of nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs from 430 individuals with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 and 54 negative controls. SARS-CoV-2 induced a strong antiviral response with up-regulation of antiviral factors such as OAS1-3 and IFIT1-3 and T helper type 1 (Th1) chemokines CXCL9/10/11, as well as a reduction in transcription of ribosomal proteins. SARS-CoV-2 culture in human airway epithelial (HAE) cultures replicated the in vivo antiviral host response 7 days post infection, with no induction of interferon-stimulated genes after 3 days. Patient-matched longitudinal specimens (mean elapsed time = 6.3 days) demonstrated reduction in interferon-induced transcription, recovery of transcription of ribosomal proteins, and initiation of wound healing and humoral immune responses.
Read more at: PLOS Biology