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SARS-CoV-2 induces human endogenous retrovirus type W envelope protein expression in blood lymphocytes and in tissues of COVID-19 patients

Abstract : Abstract Patients with COVID-19 may develop abnormal inflammatory response and lymphopenia, followed in some cases by delayed-onset syndromes, often long-lasting after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection. As viral infections may activate human endogenous retroviral elements (HERV), we studied the effect of SARS-CoV-2 on HERV-W and HERV-K envelope (ENV) expression, known to be involved in immunological and neurological pathogenesis of human diseases. Our results have showed that the exposure to SARS-CoV-2 virus activates early HERV-W and K transcription but only HERV-W ENV protein expression, in an infection- and ACE2-independent way within peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures from one-third of healthy donors. Moreover, HERV-W ENV protein was significantly increased in serum and plasma of COVID-19 patients, correlating with its expression in CD3 + lymphocytes and with disease severity. Finally, HERV-W ENV was found expressed in post-mortem tissues of lungs, heart, brain olfactory bulb and nasal mucosa from acute COVID-19 patients in cell-types relevant for COVID-19-associated pathogenesis within affected organs, but different from those expressing of SARS-CoV-2 antigens. Altogether, the present study revealed that SARS-CoV-2 can induce HERV-W ENV expression in cells from individuals with symptomatic and severe COVID-19. Our data suggest that HERV-W ENV is likely to be involved in pathogenic features underlying symptoms of acute and post-acute COVID. It highlights the importance to further understand patients’ genetic susceptibility to HERV-W activation and the relevance of this pathogenic element as a prognostic marker and a therapeutic target in COVID-19 associated syndromes. Graphical abstract
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Preprints, Working Papers, ...
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https://hal-cnrs.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03777075
Contributor : Cyrille Mathieu Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 12:12:16 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, September 24, 2022 - 3:10:05 PM

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Benjamin Charvet, Joanna Brunel, Justine Pierquin, Mathieu Iampietro, Didier Decimo, et al.. SARS-CoV-2 induces human endogenous retrovirus type W envelope protein expression in blood lymphocytes and in tissues of COVID-19 patients. 2022. ⟨hal-03777075⟩

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