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Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2021 Oct 15:166291. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2021.166291. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate in silico the presence of nucleotide sequence complementarity between the RNA genome of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and human non-coding (nc)RNA genes.
METHODS: The FASTA sequence (NC_045512.2) of each of the 11 SARS-CoV-2 isolate Wuhan-Hu-1 genes was retrieved from NCBI.nlm.nih.gov/gene and the Ensembl.org library interrogated for any base-pair match with human ncRNA genes. SARS-CoV-2 gene-matched human ncRNAs were screened for functional activity using bioinformatic analysis. Finally, associations between identified ncRNAs and human diseases were searched in GWAS databases.
RESULTS: A total of 252 matches were found between the nucleotide sequence of SARS-CoV-2 genes and human ncRNAs. With the exception of two small nuclear RNAs, all of them were long non-coding (lnc)RNAs expressed mainly in testis and central nervous system under physiological conditions. The percentage of alignment ranged from 91.30% to 100% with a mean nucleotide alignment length of 17.5 ± 2.4. Thirty-three (13.9%) of them contained predicted R-loop forming sequences, but none of these intersected the complementary sequences of SARS-CoV-2. However, in 31 cases matches fell on ncRNA regulatory sites, whose adjacent coding genes are mostly involved in cancer, immunological and neurological pathways. Similarly, several polymorphic variants of detected non-coding genes have been associated with neuropsychiatric and proliferative disorders.
CONCLUSION: This pivotal in silico study shows that SARS-CoV-2 genes have Watson-Crick nucleotide complementarity to human ncRNA sequences, potentially disrupting ncRNA epigenetic control of target genes. It remains to be elucidated whether this could result in the development of human disease in the long term.
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