Shotgun Transcriptome and Isothermal Profiling of SARS-CoV-2 Infection Reveals Unique Host Responses, Viral Diversification, and Drug Interactions

bioRxiv. 2020 May 1;2020.04.20.048066. doi: 10.1101/2020.04.20.048066. Preprint


The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused thousands of deaths worldwide, including >18,000 in New York City (NYC) alone. The sudden emergence of this pandemic has highlighted a pressing clinical need for rapid, scalable diagnostics that can detect infection, interrogate strain evolution, and identify novel patient biomarkers. To address these challenges, we designed a fast (30-minute) colorimetric test (LAMP) for SARS-CoV-2 infection from naso/oropharyngeal swabs, plus a large-scale shotgun metatranscriptomics platform (total-RNA-seq) for host, bacterial, and viral profiling. We applied both technologies across 857 SARS-CoV-2 clinical specimens and 86 NYC subway samples, providing a broad molecular portrait of the COVID-19 NYC outbreak. Our results define new features of SARS-CoV-2 evolution, nominate a novel, NYC-enriched viral subclade, reveal specific host responses in interferon, ACE, hematological, and olfaction pathways, and examine risks associated with use of ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers. Together, these findings have immediate applications to SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, public health, and new therapeutic targets.

Keywords: RNA-seq; coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); global health; loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP); next-generation sequencing (NGS); quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Publication types

  • Preprint