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A proteome-wide genetic investigation identifies several SARS-CoV-2-exploited host targets of clinical relevance.

eLife (2021-08-18)
Mohd Anisul, Jarrod Shilts, Jeremy Schwartzentruber, James Hayhurst, Annalisa Buniello, Elmutaz Shaikho Elhaj Mohammed, Jie Zheng, Michael Holmes, David Ochoa, Miguel Carmona, Joseph Maranville, Tom R Gaunt, Valur Emilsson, Vilmundur Gudnason, Ellen M McDonagh, Gavin J Wright, Maya Ghoussaini, Ian Dunham

The virus SARS-CoV-2 can exploit biological vulnerabilities (e.g. host proteins) in susceptible hosts that predispose to the development of severe COVID-19. To identify host proteins that may contribute to the risk of severe COVID-19, we undertook proteome-wide genetic colocalisation tests, and polygenic (pan) and cis-Mendelian randomisation analyses leveraging publicly available protein and COVID-19 datasets. Our analytic approach identified several known targets (e.g. ABO, OAS1), but also nominated new proteins such as soluble Fas (colocalisation probability >0.9, p=1 × 10-4), implicating Fas-mediated apoptosis as a potential target for COVID-19 risk. The polygenic (pan) and cis-Mendelian randomisation analyses showed consistent associations of genetically predicted ABO protein with several COVID-19 phenotypes. The ABO signal is highly pleiotropic, and a look-up of proteins associated with the ABO signal revealed that the strongest association was with soluble CD209. We demonstrated experimentally that CD209 directly interacts with the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, suggesting a mechanism that could explain the ABO association with COVID-19. Our work provides a prioritised list of host targets potentially exploited by SARS-CoV-2 and is a precursor for further research on CD209 and FAS as therapeutically tractable targets for COVID-19. MAK, JSc, JH, AB, DO, MC, EMM, MG, ID were funded by Open Targets. J.Z. and T.R.G were funded by the UK Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit (MC_UU_00011/4). JSh and GJW were funded by the Wellcome Trust Grant 206194. This research was funded in part by the Wellcome Trust [Grant 206194]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.

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