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Research Project: Intervention Strategies to Control Endemic and New and Emerging Viral Diseases of Swine

Location: Virus and Prion Research

Title: Epigenetic evolution of ACE2 and IL-6 genes as non-canonical interferon-stimulated genes correlate to COVID-19 susceptibility in vertebrates

item SANG, ERIC - Tennessee State University
item TIAN, YUN - Tennessee State University
item GONG, YUANYING - Tennessee State University
item Miller, Laura
item SANG, YONGMING - Tennessee State University

Submitted to: American Society for Virology Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/5/2021
Publication Date: 7/19/2021
Citation: Sang, E.R., Tian, Y., Gong, Y., Miller, L.C., Sang, Y. 2021. Epigenetic evolution of ACE2 and IL-6 genes as non-canonical interferon-stimulated genes correlate to COVID-19 susceptibility in vertebrates [abstract]. American Society for Virology Meeting. Virtual.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Current novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has spread globally within a matter of months. The virus establishes a success in balancing its deadliness and contagiousness, and causes substantial differences in susceptibility and disease progression in people of different ages, genders and pre-existing comorbidities. Since these host factors are subjected to epigenetic regulation, relevant analyses on some key genes underlying COVID-19 pathogenesis were performed to longitudinally decipher their epigenetic correlation to COVID-19 susceptibility. The genes of host angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2, as the major virus receptor) and interleukin (IL)-6 (a key immune-pathological factor triggering cytokine storm) were shown to evince active epigenetic evolution via histone modification and cis/trans-factors interaction across different vertebrate species. Extensive analyses revealed that ACE2 ad IL-6 genes are among a subset of non-canonical interferon-stimulated genes (non-ISGs), which have been designated recently for their unconventional responses to interferons (IFNs) and inflammatory stimuli through an epigenetic cascade. Furthermore, significantly higher positive histone modification markers and PWM (position weight matrix)scores of key cis-elements corresponding to inflammatory and IFN signaling, were discovered in both ACE2and IL6 gene promoters across representative COVID-19-susceptible species compared to unsusceptible ones. Findings characterize ACE2 and IL-6 genes as non-ISGs that respond differently to inflammatory and IFN signaling from the canonical ISGs. The epigenetic properties ACE2 and IL-6 genes may serve as biomarkers to longitudinally predict COVID-19 susceptibility in vertebrates and partially explain COVID-19 inequality in people of different subgroups.