Common genetic variation in humans impacts in vitro susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Kristina DobrindtKristen J Brennand

Abstract

The host response to SARS-CoV-2, the etiologic agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrates significant inter-individual variability. In addition to showing more disease in males, the elderly, and individuals with underlying co-morbidities, SARS-CoV-2 can seemingly render healthy individuals with profound clinical complications. We hypothesize that, in addition to viral load and host antibody repertoire, host genetic variants also impact vulnerability to infection. Here we apply human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-based models and CRISPR-engineering to explore the host genetics of SARS-CoV-2. We demonstrate that a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs4702), common in the population at large, and located in the 3'UTR of the protease FURIN, impacts alveolar and neuron infection by SARS-CoV-2 in vitro . Thus, we provide a proof-of-principle finding that common genetic variation can impact viral infection, and thus contribute to clinical heterogeneity in SARS-CoV-2. Ongoing genetic studies will help to better identify high-risk individuals, predict clinical complications, and facilitate the discovery of drugs that might treat disease.

Methods Mentioned

BETA
RNA-seq
PCR
Protein Assay

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