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A Proteomic Perspective and Involvement of Cytokines in SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Sarena Banu, Ramakrishnan Nagaraj, Mohammed M. Idris


Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus results in manifestation of several clinical observations from asymptomatic to multi-organ failure. Biochemically, the serious effects are due to what is described as cytokine storm. The initial infection region for COVID-19 is the nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal region which is the site where samples are taken to examine the presence of virus.


The COVID19 pandemic has led to extensive investigations on multiple aspects of the biology of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus as well as host-responses. Despite extensive investigations, as of now, vaccination appears to be the only way to avoid or reduce infection by the virus.

Materials and Methods:

Sample collection

Human nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swab samples were collected from CSIR—Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) COVID19 diagnostic facility archive in viral transport media (VTM).

Protein extraction and iTRAQ labelling

A total of 12 VTM swab samples were grouped into 2 with each group consisting of 3 positive and 3 negative SARS-CoV-2 VTM samples were taken for the quantitative differential proteomics study.

Real-time PCR analysis

Total RNA was extracted from the selected individual VTM swab samples using KingFisherTM Flex System (Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., USA). A total of 80 VTM RNA samples were quantified and grouped into 8 with each group consisting 100ng of 5 positive and 5 negative samples.


The initial site of SARS-COV-2 infection is the upper airways. As the disease progresses, respiratory difficulties have been observed in severe cases. The expression of two main SARS-COV-2 receptors, angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) and transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS), was found to be high in the upper airway tract mucosa. The nasopharyngeal region plays a major role in mucosal immunity against SARS-COV-2 infection by activating lymphocytes, B cells, and other cellular components, as well as activating antigen specific immunity.


The authors are thankful to Mrs. Sowmya Vuppaladadium for technical help. RN is Indian National Science Academy Senior Scientist.

Citation: Banu S, Nagaraj R, Idris MM (2023) A proteomic perspective and involvement of cytokines in SARS-CoV-2 infection. PLoS ONE 18(1): e0279998.

Editor: Selvakumar Subbian, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, UNITED STATES

Received: July 7, 2022; Accepted: December 19, 2022; Published: January 6, 2023.

Copyright: © 2023 Banu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: Project Name: Proteome Map of Human nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swab samples in VTM media following SARS-CoV-2 infection Project accession: PXD032150 Project DOI: 10.6019/PXD032150 Username: Password: pJyMf2mj.

Funding: The study was supported by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist

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