Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), a member of the genus Betacoronavirus
in the family Coronaviridae
, possesses an unusually large single-stranded viral RNA (ssvRNA) genome of about ~29,811 nucleotides (nt) that causes severe and acute respiratory distress and a highly lethal viral pneumonia known as COVID-19. COVID-19 also presents with multiple ancillary systemic diseases and often involves cardiovascular, inflammatory, and/or neurological complications. Pathological viral genomes consisting of ssvRNA, like cellular messenger RNA (mRNA), are susceptible to attack, destruction, neutralization, and/or modulation by naturally occurring small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) within the host cell, some of which are known as microRNAs (miRNAs). This paper proposes that the actions of the 2650 known human miRNAs and other sncRNAs form the basis for an under-recognized and unappreciated innate-immune regulator of ssvRNA viral genome activities and have implications for the efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 invasion, infection, and replication. Recent research indicates that both miRNA and mRNA abundance, speciation, and complexity varies widely amongst human individuals, and this may: (i)
In part explain the variability in the innate-immune immunological and pathophysiological response of different human individuals to the initiation and progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection in multiple tissue types; and (ii)
further support our understanding of human biochemical and genetic individuality and the variable resistance of individuals to ssvRNA-mediated viral infection and disease. This commentary will briefly address current findings and concepts in this fascinating research area of non-coding RNA and innate-immunity with special reference to natural host miRNAs, SARS-CoV-2, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
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