Background. Exploring alterations in the host transcriptome following SARS-CoV-2 infection is not only highly warranted to help us understand molecular mechanisms of the disease, but also provide new prospective for screening effective antiviral drugs, finding new therapeutic targets, and evaluating the risk of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) early.
Methods. We downloaded three gene expression matrix files from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database, and extracted the gene expression data of the SARS-CoV-2 infection and non-infection in human samples and different cell line samples, and then performed gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), respectively. Thereafter, we integrated the results of GSEA and obtained co-enriched gene sets and co-core genes in three various microarray data. Finally, we also constructed a protein-protein interaction (PPI) network and molecular modules for co-core genes and performed Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis for the genes from modules to clarify their possible biological processes and underlying signaling pathway.
Results. A total of 11 co-enriched gene sets were identiﬁed from the three various microarray data. Among them, 10 gene sets were activated, and involved in immune response and inflammatory reaction. 1 gene set was suppressed, and participated in cell cycle. The analysis of molecular modules showed that 2 modules might play a vital role in the pathogenic process of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The KEGG enrichment analysis showed that genes from module one enriched in signaling pathways related to inflammation, but genes from module two enriched in signaling of cell cycle and DNA replication. Particularly, necroptosis signaling, a newly identified type of programmed cell death that differed from apoptosis, was also determined in our findings. Additionally, for patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, genes from module one showed a relatively high-level expression while genes from module two showed low-level.
Conclusions. We identified two molecular modules were used to assess severity and predict the prognosis of the patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition, these results provide a unique opportunity to explore more molecular pathways as new potential targets on therapy in COVID 19.