Nuclear Translocation of Spike mRNA and Protein is a Novel pathogenic Feature of SARS-CoV-2

Sarah Sattar et al.

Nuclear translocation of spike mRNA and protein is a novel pathogenic feature of SARS-CoV-2. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes severe pathophysiology in vulnerable older populations and appears to be highly pathogenic and more transmissible than SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV [1, 2]. The spike (S) protein appears to be a major pathogenic factor that contributes to the unique pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2. Although the S protein is a surface transmembrane type 1 glycoprotein, it has been predicted to be translocated into the nucleus due to the novel nuclear localization signal (NLS) “PRRARSV”, which is absent from the S protein of other coronaviruses. Indeed, S proteins translocate into the nucleus in SARS-CoV-2-infected cells. To our surprise, S mRNAs also translocate into the nucleus. S mRNA colocalizes with S protein, aiding the nuclear translocation of S mRNA. While nuclear translocation of nucleoprotein (N) has been shown in many coronaviruses, the nuclear translocation of both S mRNA and S protein reveals a novel pathogenic feature of SARS-CoV-2.

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