Role of SARS-CoV-2 N Protein in COVID-19 Disease Pathogenesis

blue illustration of coronavirus

Coronaviruses (CoVs) include some of the highly pathogenic viruses that can cause severe and deadly diseases in livestock and humans, including the recently discovered SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

A unique feature of some of these pathogenic CoVs is that they can evade host immune recognition, which allows these viruses to replicate unchecked to cause uncontrolled cellular inflammation and lung tissue damage.

Led by Qinfeng Huang, PhD, research associate, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, this study will evaluate if the nucleocapsid protein (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2 has the ability to mediate host immune suppression that can lead to high levels of virus replication to cause severe cellular inflammation and lung tissue injury.

“Understanding this novel cellular mechanism of viral immune suppression can lead to a better level of understanding COVID-19 disease pathogenesis for the development of effective therapeutic and preventative measures against this highly contagious and deadly virus,” said Huang.

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.