SARS-CoV-2 activates/modulates innate and adaptive immune responses

Stable Identifier
Homo sapiens
Related Species
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
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Coronaviruses (CoVs) are positive-sense RNA viruses that replicate in the interior of double membrane vesicles (DMV) in the cytoplasm of infected cells (Stertz S et al. 2007; Knoops K et al. 2008; V'kovski P et al. 2021). The viral replication and transcription are facilitated by virus-encoded non-structural proteins (SARS-CoV-2 nsp1–nsp16) that assemble to form a DMV-bound replication-transcription complex (RTC) (V'kovski P et al. 2021). The replication strategy of CoVs can generate both single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) and double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) species, that may act as pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) recognized by pattern recognition receptor (PRR) such as toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) and TLR8, antiviral innate immune response receptor RIG-I (also known as DEAD box protein 58, DDX58) and interferon-induced helicase C domain-containing protein 1 (IFIH1, also known as MDA5) (Salvi V et al. 2021; Campbell GR et al. 2021; Rebendenne A et al. 2021). The activated PRRs trigger signaling pathways to produce type I and type III interferons IFNs and proinflammatory mediators that perform antiviral functions. This Reactome module describes the mechanisms underlying PRR-mediated sensing of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. First, endosomal recognition of viral ssRNA occurs by means of TLR7 and TLR8, which detect GU-rich ssRNA sequences (Salvi V et al. 2021; Campbell GR et al. 2021). Second, SARS-CoV-2 dsRNA replication intermediates can be recognized by cytoplasmic receptors DDX58 and IFIH1 which bind to mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS, IPS-1) to induce the IFN-mediated antiviral response (Rebendenne A et al. 2021; Yin X et al. 2021). In addition, SARS-CoV-2 E can be sensed by TLR2 (Zheng M et al. 2021). Further, cellular nucleic acid-binding protein (CNBP) and La-related protein 1 (LARP1) can directly bind SARS-CoV-2 gRNA to repress SARS-CoV-2 replication (Schmidt N et al. 2021). This module also describes several strategies developed by SARS-CoV-2 to evade or alter host immunity, including escaping innate immune sensors, inhibiting IFN production and signaling, and evading antiviral function of IFN stimulated gene (ISG) products. For example, SARS-CoV-2 encodes nsp14 and nsp16 which possess guanine-N7-methyltransferase activity and 2’-O-methyl-transferase activity respectively (Ogando NS et al. 2020; Krafcikova P et al. 2020; Viswanatha T et al. 2020; Lin S et al. 2021; Yan L et al. 2021). In human coronaviruses nsp14 generates 5' cap-0 viral RNA (m7GpppN, guanine N7-methylated) and nsp16 further methylates cap-0 viral RNA. These viral RNA modifications mimic the 5'-cap structure of host mRNAs allowing the virus to efficiently evade recognition by cytosolic DDX58 and IFIH1 (Chen Y et al. 2009, 2011; Daffis S et al. 2010, shown for CoVs such as SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV). Structural studies and computational analysis suggest that properties and biological functions of SARS-CoV-2 nsp14 and nsp16 could be very similar to these of SARS-CoV-1 (Rosas-Lemus M et al. 2020; Lin S et al. 2020; Viswanathan T et al. 2020; Krafcikova P et al. 2020; Jiang Y et al. 2020; Wilamowski M et al. 2021). Further, the uridylate‐specific endoribonuclease (EndoU) activity of SARS-CoV-2 nsp15 degrades viral RNA to hide it from innate immune sensors (Frazier MN et al. 2021). Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 encodes several proteins that directly bind to host targets associated with SARS‑CoV‑2 infection and cytokine production (Shin D et al. 2020; Viswanathan T et al. 2020; Xia H et al. 2020; Matsuyama T et al. 2020; Yuen CK et al. 2020; reviewed by Park A & Iwasaki A 2020). This Reactome module describes several such binding events and their consequences. For example, as a deubiquitinating and deISGylating enzyme, viral nsp3 binds to and removes ISG15 from signaling proteins such as IRF3 and IFIH1 thereby modulating the formation of signaling complexes and the activation of IRF3/7 and NF-kappaB (Liu CQ et al. 2021). Binding of SARS-CoV-2 nsp6, nsp13 or membrane (M) protein to cytosolic TBK1 prevents IRF3/7 activation and inhibits IFN production downstream of DDX58, IFIH1, MAVS and STING signaling pathways (Xia H et al. 2020; Sui L et al. 2021). Next, M protein targets MAVS to prevent the formation of the MAVS signalosome complex and thereby inhibits downstream signaling pathways of DDX58 and IFIH1 (Fu YZ et al. 2021). Binding of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein to E3 ubiquitin ligase TRIM25 inhibits TRIM25-mediated DDX58 ubiquitination and the DDX58 signaling pathway (Gori SG et al. 2021). N interacts with NLRP3 to promote the assembly and activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome (Pan P et al. 2021). The interaction between viral N and MASP2 promotes MASP2-mediated cleavage of C4 (Ali YM et al. 2021) and C2 (Kang S et al. 2021) leading to the hyperactivation of the complement system. Besides, viral N promotes NF-kappaB activation by targeting signaling complexes of TAK1 and IKK (Wu Y et al. 2021). The ion channel activities of accessory protein ORF3a or 3a (open reading frame 3a) and SARS‑CoV‑2 envelope (E) protein contribute to activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome leading to highly inflammatory pyroptotic cell death (based on findings for SARS-CoV-1, Siu KL et al. 2019). SARS-CoV-2 nsp5 protease (3CLpro) cleaves TAB1, a component of the TAK1 complex, thus inhibiting NF-kappaB activation (Moustaqil M et al .2021). 3CLpro targets NLRP12 which modulates the expression of inflammatory cytokines through the regulation of the NFkappaB and MAPK pathways (Moustaqil M et al. 2021). SARS-CoV-2 6 (ORF6) interacts with importin KPNA2 and components of the nuclear pore complex, NUP98 and RAE1, to block nuclear translocation of IRF3, STAT1 and STAT2 (Xia H et al. 2020; Miorin L et al. 2020). SARS-CoV-2 9b (ORF9b) inhibits the MAVS-mediated production of type I IFNs by targeting TOMM70 on the mitochondria (Jiang HW et al. 2020). Binding of mitochondrial viral 9 to IKBKG prevents MAVS-dependent NF-kappaB activation (Wu J et al. 2021). Although the evasion mechanisms are mainly conserved between SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 (Gordon DE et al. 2020), studies identified SARS-CoV-2-specific modulations of host immune response that may contribute to pathophysiological determinants of COVID-19 (Gordon DE et al. 2020; Schiller HB et al. 2021). This Reactome module describes several virus-host interactions identified in cells during SARS-CoV-2, but not SARS-CoV-1, infection. For example, SARS-CoV-2 8 (ORF8) regulates the expression of class I MHC on the surface of the infected cells through an autophagy-dependent lysosomal degradation of class I MHC (Zhang Y et al. 2021). At the plasma membrane, binding of secreted viral 8 to IL17RA activates IL17 signaling pathway leading to an increased secretion of cytokines/chemokines thus contributing to cytokine storm during SARS-CoV-2 infection (Lin X et al. 2021). Furthermore, SARS-CoV-2-host interactome and proteomics studies identified various human proteins that are targeted by SARS-CoV-2 proteins (Gordon DE et al. 2020a, b; Bojkova D et al. 2020; Stukalov A et al. 2021; Li J et al. 2021; Messina F et al. 2021). This Reactome module does not cover all identified SARS-CoV-2–human interactions; the module describes those associations that were functionally validated.
Literature References
PubMed ID Title Journal Year
32734714 Innate immune evasion by SARS-CoV-2: Comparison with SARS-CoV

Bouayad, A

Rev Med Virol 2020
34571706 Type I Interferons in COVID-19 Pathogenesis

Sgarbanti, M, Hiscott, J, Di Carlo, D, Palermo, E

Biology (Basel) 2021
32464097 Type I and Type III Interferons - Induction, Signaling, Evasion, and Application to Combat COVID-19

Park, A, Iwasaki, A

Cell Host Microbe 2020
34022154 Innate immune and inflammatory responses to SARS-CoV-2: Implications for COVID-19

Lowery, SA, Perlman, S, Sariol, A

Cell Host Microbe 2021
34209845 Innate Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 Infection: From Cells to Soluble Mediators

Sandini, S, Ricci, D, Coccia, EM, Etna, MP, Rizzo, F, Severa, M

Int J Mol Sci 2021
32979938 Evasion of Type I Interferon by SARS-CoV-2

Chen, JY, Rajsbaum, R, Zhang, X, Xia, H, Cao, Z, Wang, H, Menachery, VD, Shi, PY, Xie, X

Cell Rep 2020
32726355 Interplay between SARS-CoV-2 and the type I interferon response

Dreux, M, Jouvenet, N, Nisole, S, Sa Ribero, M

PLoS Pathog 2020
Name Identifier Synonyms
COVID-19 DOID:0080600 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus infection, 2019-nCoV infection, Wuhan coronavirus infection
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