Transcriptomic profiling of SARS-CoV-2 infected human cell lines identifies HSP90 as target for COVID-19 therapy.

Emanuel Wyler, Kirstin Mösbauer, Vedran Franke, Asija Diag, Lina Theresa Gottula, Roberto Arsiè, Filippos Klironomos, David Koppstein, Katja Hönzke, Salah Ayoub, Christopher Buccitelli, Karen Hoffmann, Anja Richter, Ivano Legnini, Andranik Ivanov, Tommaso Mari, Simone Del Giudice, Jan Papies, Samantha Praktiknjo, Thomas F Meyer, Marcel Alexander Müller, Daniela Niemeyer, Andreas Hocke, Matthias Selbach, Altuna Akalin, Nikolaus Rajewsky, Christian Drosten, Markus Landthaler
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Detailed knowledge of the molecular biology of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is crucial for understanding of viral replication, host responses, and disease progression. Here, we report gene expression profiles of three SARS-CoV- and SARS-CoV-2-infected human cell lines. SARS-CoV-2 elicited an approximately two-fold higher stimulation of the innate immune response compared to SARS-CoV in the human epithelial cell line Calu-3, including induction of miRNA-155. Single-cell RNA sequencing of infected cells showed that genes induced by virus infections were broadly upregulated, whereas interferon beta/lambda genes, a pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, were expressed only in small subsets of infected cells. Temporal analysis suggested that transcriptional activities of interferon regulatory factors precede those of nuclear factor κB. Lastly, we identified heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) as a protein relevant for the infection. Inhibition of the HSP90 activity resulted in a reduction of viral replication and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in primary human airway epithelial cells.