Transcriptomic profiling of SARS-CoV-2 infected human cell lines identifies HSP90 as target for COVID-19 therapy


  • E. Wyler
  • K. Mösbauer
  • V. Franke
  • A. Diag
  • L.T. Gottula
  • R. Arsiè
  • F. Klironomos
  • D. Koppstein
  • K. Hönzke
  • S. Ayoub
  • C. Buccitelli
  • K. Hoffmann
  • A. Richter
  • I. Legnini
  • A. Ivanov
  • T. Mari
  • S. Del Giudice
  • J. Papies
  • S. Praktiknjo
  • T.F. Meyer
  • M.A. Müller
  • D. Niemeyer
  • A. Hocke
  • M. Selbach
  • A. Akalin
  • N. Rajewsky
  • C. Drosten
  • M. Landthaler


  • iScience


  • iScience 24 (3): 102151


  • Detailed knowledge of the molecular biology of SARS-CoV-2 infection is crucial for understanding of viral replication, host responses and disease progression. Here, we report gene expression profiles of three SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infected human cell lines. SARS-CoV-2 elicited an approximately two-fold higher stimulation of the innate immune response compared to SARS-CoV in the human epithelial cell line Calu-3, including induction of miRNA-155. Single-cell RNA sequencing of infected cells showed that genes induced by virus infections were broadly upregulated, whereas interferon beta/lambda genes an pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 were expressed only in small subsets of infected cells. Temporal analysis suggested that transcriptional activities of interferon regulatory factors precede those of nuclear factor κB. Lastly, we identified heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) as a protein relevant for the infection. Inhibition of the HSP90 activity resulted in a reduction of viral replication and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in primary human airway epithelial cells.