CoronaVirus News

Predicting host-based, synthetic lethal antiviral targets from omics data

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Traditional antiviral therapies often have limited effectiveness due to toxicity and development of drug resistance. Host-based antivirals, while an alternative, may lead to non-specific effects. Recent evidence shows that virus-infected cells can be selectively eliminated by targeting synthetic lethal (SL) partners of proteins disrupted by viral infection. Thus, we hypothesized that genes depleted in CRISPR KO screens of virus-infected cells may be enriched in SL partners of proteins altered by infection. To investigate this, we established a computational pipeline predicting SL drug targets of viral infections. First, we identified SARS-CoV-2-induced changes in gene products via a large compendium of omics data. Second, we identified SL partners for each altered gene product. Last, we screened CRISPR KO data for SL partners required for cell viability in infected cells. Despite differences in virus-induced alterations detected by various omics data, they share many predicted SL targets, with significant enrichment in CRISPR KO-depleted datasets. Comparing data from SARS-CoV-2 and influenza infections, we found possible broad-spectrum, host-based antiviral SL targets. This suggests that CRISPR KO data are replete with common antiviral targets due to their SL relationship with virus-altered states and that such targets can be revealed from analysis of omics datasets and SL predictions.