The landscape of SARS-CoV-2 RNA modifications
Núria Díaz i Pedrosa,
Bjoern Andreas Gruening
Posted 18 Jul 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.18.204362
Posted 18 Jul 2020
In 2019 the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused the first documented cases of severe lung disease COVID-19. Since then, SARS-CoV-2 has been spreading around the globe resulting in a severe pandemic with over 500.000 fatalities and large economical and social disruptions in human societies. Gaining knowledge on how SARS-Cov-2 interacts with its host cells and causes COVID-19 is crucial for the intervention of novel therapeutic strategies. SARS-CoV-2, like other coronaviruses, is a positive-strand RNA virus. The viral RNA is modified by RNA-modifying enzymes provided by the host cell. Direct RNA sequencing (DRS) using nanopores enables unbiased sensing of canonical and modified RNA bases of the viral transcripts. In this work, we used DRS to precisely annotate the open reading frames and the landscape of SARS-CoV-2 RNA modifications. We provide the first DRS data of SARS-CoV-2 in infected human lung epithelial cells. From sequencing three isolates, we derive a robust identification of SARS-CoV-2 modification sites within a physiologically relevant host cell type. A comparison of our data with the DRS data from a previous SARS-CoV-2 isolate, both raised in monkey renal cells, reveals consistent RNA modifications across the viral genome. Conservation of the RNA modification pattern during progression of the current pandemic suggests that this pattern is likely essential for the life cycle of SARS-CoV-2 and represents a possible target for drug interventions. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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