Proteomic signature of host response to sars-cov-2 infection in the nasopharynx

Patrick M. Vanderboom, Dong Gi Mun, Anil K. Madugundu, Kiran K. Mangalaparthi, Mayank Saraswat, Kishore arapati, Rana Chakraborty, Hideki Ebihara, Jie Sun, Akhilesh Pandey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, has become a global health pandemic. COVID-19 severity ranges from an asymptomatic infection to a severe multiorgan disease. Although the inflammatory response has been implicated in the pathogenesis of COVID-19, the exact nature of dysregulation in signaling pathways has not yet been elucidated, underscoring the need for further molecular characterization of SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans. Here,we characterize the host response directly at the point of viral entry through analysis of nasopharyngeal swabs. Multiplexed high-resolutionMS-based proteomic analysisof confirmed COVID-19 cases and negative controls identified 7582 proteins and revealed significant upregulation of interferon-mediated antiviral signaling in addition tomultiple other proteins that are not encoded by interferon-stimulated genes or well characterized during viral infections. Downregulation of several proteasomal subunits, E3 ubiquitin ligases, and components of protein synthesismachinery was significant upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. Targeted proteomics to measure abundance levels of MX1, ISG15, STAT1, RIG-I, and CXCL10 detected proteomic signatures of interferon-mediated antiviral signaling that differentiated COVID-19-positive from COVID-19-negative cases. Phosphoproteomic analysis revealed increased phosphorylation of several proteinswith known antiviral properties aswell as several proteins involved in ciliary function (CEP131 and CFAP57) that have not previously been implicated in the context of coronavirus infections. In addition, decreased phosphorylation levels of AKT and PKC, which have been shown to play varying roles in different viral infections, were observed in infected individuals relative to controls. These data provide novel insights that add depth to our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the upper airway and establish a proteomic signature for this viral infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100134
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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