How SARS-CoV-2 Evades And Suppresses The Immune System (Part 11)

Discussions of innate immunity typically focus on the exterior—what happens outside the virus. But another way of approach is to focus, once the virus gets in, on the interior of the infected cell and its neighbors.

In the previous few installments of this series I discussed nonspecific mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 immune suppression, which affect entire cellular processes and structures. Now I will shift our attention towards specific immune suppression. In addition to mounting a more targeted offensive, this component of the virus’ strategy yields very precise effects, in some cases limited to just one element of one immunological pathway. But the consequences of these minute shifts, as we shall soon see, can be far-reaching.

For example, many of the Orfs (open reading frames), as far as we know, only interact with select innate immune signals, like interferon and interferon-responsive genes, while the nonstructural protein Nsp1, in addition to its nonspecific functions, also specifically inhibits RIG-I, a pattern recognition receptor critical to the activation of the innate immune response.

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Originally published on Forbes (September 9, 2021)

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.