Turkish Journal of Biology




Background/aim: Understanding the mechanism of host transcriptomic response to infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is crucial, especially for patients suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19, such as long COVID or pericarditis inflammation, potentially linked to side effects of the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins. We conducted comprehensive transcriptome and enrichment analyses on lung and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) infected with SARS-CoV-2, as well as on SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, to uncover shared pathways and elucidate their common disease progression and viral replication mechanisms. Materials and methods: We developed CompCorona, the first interactive online tool for visualizing gene response variance among the family Coronaviridae through 2D and 3D principal component analysis (PCA) and exploring systems biology variance using pathway plots. We also made preprocessed datasets of lungs and PBMCs infected by SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV publicly available through CompCorona. Results: One remarkable finding from the lung and PBMC datasets for infections by SARS-CoV-2, but not infections by other coronaviruses (CoVs), was the significant downregulation of the angiogenin (ANG) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) genes, both directly involved in epithelial and vascular endothelial cell dysfunction. Suppression of the TNF signaling pathway was also observed in cells infected by SARS-CoV-2, along with simultaneous activation of complement and coagulation cascades and pertussis pathways. The ribosome pathway was found to be universally suppressed across all three viruses. The CompCorona online tool enabled the comparative analysis of 9 preprocessed host transcriptome datasets of cells infected by CoVs, revealing the specific host response differences in cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. This included identifying markers of epithelial dysfunction via interactive 2D and 3D PCA, Venn diagrams, and pathway plots. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that infection by SARS-CoV-2 might induce pulmonary epithelial dysfunction, a phenomenon not observed in cells infected by other CoVs. The publicly available CompCorona tool, along with the preprocessed datasets of cells infected by various CoVs, constitutes a valuable resource for further research into CoV-associated syndromes.


epithelial dysfunction, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, principal component analysis, SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, web portal

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