Transcriptomic profiling and genomic mutational analysis of human coronavirus (HCoV)-229E -infected human cells

Nehemya Friedman, Jasmine Jacob-Hirsch, Yaron Drori, Eyal Eran, Nitzan Kol, Omri Nayshool, Ella Mendelson, Gideon Rechavi, Michal Mandelboim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human coronaviruses (HCoVs) cause mild to severe respiratory infection. Most of the common cold illnesses are caused by one of four HCoVs, namely HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-HKU1 and HCoV-OC43. Several studies have applied global transcriptomic methods to understand host responses to HCoV infection, with most studies focusing on the pandemic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV) and the newly emerging SARS-CoV-2. In this study, Next Generation Sequencing was used to gain new insights into cellular transcriptomic changes elicited by alphacoronavirus HCoV-229E. HCoV-229E-infected MRC-5 cells showed marked downregulation of superpathway of cholesterol biosynthesis and eIF2 signaling pathways. Moreover, upregulation of cyclins, cell cycle control of chromosomal replication, and the role of BRCA1 in DNA damage response, alongside downregulation of the cell cycle G1/S checkpoint, suggest that HCoV-229E may favors S phase for viral infection. Intriguingly, a significant portion of key factors of cell innate immunity, interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) and other transcripts of early antiviral response genes were downregulated early in HCoV-229E infection. On the other hand, early upregulation of the antiviral response factor Apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme catalytic subunit 3B (APOBEC3B) was observed. APOBEC3B cytidine deaminase signature (C-to-T) was previously observed in genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 but not HCoV-229E. Higher levels of C-to-T mutations were found in countries with high mortality rates caused by SARS-CoV-2. APOBEC activity could be a marker for new emerging CoVs. This study will enhance our understanding of commonly circulating HCoVs and hopefully provide critical information about still-emerging coronaviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0247128
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - Feb 2021


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