Principle Investigators: Leah Kottyan, PhD, & Matt Weirauch, PhD

Leah Kottyan & Matthew Weirauch.The emergence of a novel coronavirus in 2019 (SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19) has resulted in a global pandemic. The virus can cause deadly pneumonia in humans. Before the current pandemic, the 2013 severe acute respiratory syndrome and the 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV) spread rapidly across the globe causing extensive illness and death.

Coronaviruses have a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA genome of 26 to 32 kilobases in size. The genome includes 10 to 15 open reading frames. Like many other viruses, the viral genome of SARS-CoV-2 encodes at least one transcription factor (TF) that regulates the expression of viral genes: nucleocapsid (also known as the N protein). To date, genome-wide assessment of binding as well as gene expression regulation by nucleocapsids from any disease-causing human coronaviruses is lacking. Our research will create global maps of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-1) nucleocapsid regulation of the human genome in cell types across the body that can be infected.