Molecular mimicry between SARS-CoV-2 and the female reproductive system

Arad Dotan, Darja Kanduc, Sylviane Muller, Alexander Makatsariya, Yehuda Shoenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Oogenesis, the process of egg production by the ovary, involves a complex differentiation program leading to the production of functional oocytes. This process comprises a sequential pathway of steps that are finely regulated. The question related to SARS-CoV-2 infection and fertility has been evoked for several reasons, including the mechanism of molecular mimicry, which may contribute to female infertility by leading to the generation of deleterious autoantibodies, possibly contributing to the onset of an autoimmune disease in infected patients. Objective: The immunological potential of the peptides shared between SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein and oogenesis-related proteins; Thus we planned a systematic study to improve our understanding of the possible effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on female fertility using the angle of molecular mimicry as a starting point. Methods: A library of 82 human proteins linked to oogenesis was assembled at random from UniProtKB database using oogenesis, uterine receptivity, decidualization, and placentation as a key words. For the analyses, an artificial polyprotein was built by joining the 82 a sequences of the oogenesis-associated proteins. These were analyzed by searching the Immune Epitope DataBase for immunoreactive SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein epitopes hosting the shared pentapeptides. Results: SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein was found to share 41 minimal immune determinants, that is, pentapeptides, with 27 human proteins that relate to oogenesis, uterine receptivity, decidualization, and placentation. All the shared pentapeptides that we identified, with the exception of four, are also present in SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein–derived epitopes that have been experimentally validated as immunoreactive.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13494
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Volume86
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • autoimmunity
  • epitopes
  • molecular mimicry
  • oogenesis

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