(Reuters) – People who become critically ill with COVID-19 appear to have lower-than-average levels of interferons, and a new study helps explain why low interferon levels would matter.
Researchers identified 65 genes that are triggered into action by interferons – including some that inhibit the ability of the virus to enter cells and others that suppress manufacture of the virus’ genetic material or inhibit its ability to assemble itself – part of the virus replication process.
Eight of the interferon-stimulated genes act not only against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 but also against the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, the researchers reported in Molecular Cell.
“The interferon response to SARS-CoV-2 infection relies on a limited subset of … genes that govern a diverse set of cellular functions,” the researchers said.
“We wanted to gain a better understanding of the cellular response to SARS-CoV-2, including what drives a strong or weak response to infection,” coauthor Sumit Chanda of Sanford Burnham Prebys in La Jolla, California said in a statement. “We’ve gained new insights into how the virus exploits the human cells it invades, but we are still searching for its Achilles heel.”
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2P8gV7i Molecular Cell, online April 13, 2021.
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