Correlation of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cell Expansion with Upregulated Transposable Elements in Severe COVID-19 Unveiled in Single-Cell RNA Sequencing Reanalysis

Biomedicines. 2024 Jan 29;12(2):315. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines12020315.


Some studies have investigated the potential role of transposable elements (TEs) in COVID-19 pathogenesis and complications. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is no study to examine the possible association of TE expression in cell functions and its potential role in COVID-19 immune response at the single-cell level. In this study, we reanalyzed single-cell RNA seq data of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples obtained from six severe COVID-19 patients and three healthy donors to assess the probable correlation of TE expression with the immune responses induced by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in COVID-19 patients. Our findings indicate that the expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) may be a characteristic feature of COVID-19. Additionally, a significant increase in TE expression in MDSCs was observed. This upregulation of TEs in COVID-19 may be linked to the adaptability of these cells in response to their microenvironments. Furthermore, it appears that the identification of overexpressed TEs by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) in MDSCs may enhance the suppressive capacity of these cells. Thus, this study emphasizes the crucial role of TEs in the functionality of MDSCs during COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; immune system; myeloid-derived suppressor cells; single-cell RNA sequencing; transposable elements.

Grants and funding

No funding was received for this project.