A prenylated dsRNA sensor protects against severe COVID-19



Contributing to research themes:

Inherited genetic factors can influence the severity of COVID-19, but the molecular explanation underpinning a genetic association is often unclear. Intracellular antiviral defenses can inhibit the replication of viruses and reduce disease severity. To better understand the antiviral defenses relevant to COVID-19, we used interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression screening to reveal that OAS1, through RNase L, potently inhibits SARS-CoV-2. We show that a common splice-acceptor SNP (Rs10774671) governs whether people express prenylated OAS1 isoforms that are membrane-associated and sense specific regions of SARS-CoV-2 RNAs, or only express cytosolic, nonprenylated OAS1 that does not efficiently detect SARS-CoV-2. Importantly, in hospitalized patients, expression of prenylated OAS1 was associated with protection from severe COVID-19, suggesting this antiviral defense is a major component of a protective antiviral response.

Author list:


  1. Medical Research Council-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR), Institute of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.

  2. Laboratory of Tropical Diseases, Department of Genetics, Evolution, Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Biology, University of Campinas, Campinas, Sao Paolo, Brazil.

  3. Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

  4. Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

  5. Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

  6. Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

  7. Postgraduate Program in Tropical Medicine, Tropical Medicine Foundation Dr. Heitor Vieira Dourado, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil.

  8. Department of Education and Research, Oncology Control Centre of Amazonas State (FCECON), Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil.

  9. Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.

  10. Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.

  11. Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.

  12. Division of Infection & Immunity, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

  13. NIHR Health Protection Research Unit for Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.

  14. Respiratory Medicine, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool, UK.

  15. National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK.

  16. Imperial College Healthcare, National Health Service Trust London, London, UK.

  17. Intensive Care Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

# Contributed equally



Arthur Wickenhagen 1 2, Elena Sugrue # 1 2, Spyros Lytras # 1 2, Srikeerthana Kuchi # 1 2, Marko Noerenberg # 1 2, Matthew L Turnbull # 1 2, Colin Loney 1 2, Vanessa Herder 1 2, Jay Allan 1 2, Innes Jarmson 1 2, Natalia Cameron-Ruiz 1 2, Margus Varjak 1 2, Rute M Pinto 1 2, Jeffrey Y Lee 3, Louisa Iselin 1 3 4, Natasha Palmalux 1, Douglas G Stewart 1 2, Simon Swingler 1 2, Edward J D Greenwood 5 6, Thomas W M Crozier 5 6, Quan Gu 1 2, Emma L Davies 1, Sara Clohisey 6 7, Bo Wang 6 7, Fabio Trindade Maranhão Costa 2 8, Monique Freire Santana 8 9, Luiz Carlos de Lima Ferreira 7 10, Lee Murphy 10, Angie Fawkes 10, Alison Meynert 9, Graeme Grimes 9, Joao Luiz Da Silva Filho 1 11, Matthias Marti 1 11, Joseph Hughes 1, Richard J Stanton 4 12, Eddie C Y Wang 4 12, Antonia Ho 1 2, Ilan Davis 3, Ruth F Jarrett 1 2, Alfredo Castello 1 2, David L Robertson 1 5 2, Malcolm G Semple 13 14, Peter J M Openshaw 15 16, Massimo Palmarini 1 2, Paul J Lehner 5 6, J Kenneth Baillie 3 6 7 9 17, Suzannah J Rihn 1 2, Sam J Wilson 1 2, ISARIC4C Investigators