Genetic regulation of OAS1 nonsense-mediated decay underlies association with COVID-19 hospitalization in patients of European and African ancestries
AbstractThe chr12q24.13 locus encoding OAS1–OAS3 antiviral proteins has been associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) susceptibility. Here, we report genetic, functional and clinical insights into this locus in relation to COVID-19 severity. In our analysis of patients of European (n = 2,249) and African (n = 835) ancestries with hospitalized versus nonhospitalized COVID-19, the risk of hospitalized disease was associated with a common OAS1 haplotype, which was also associated with reduced severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) clearance in a clinical trial with pegIFN-λ1. Bioinformatic analyses and in vitro studies reveal the functional contribution of two associated OAS1 exonic variants comprising the risk haplotype. Derived human-specific alleles rs10774671-A and rs1131454-A decrease OAS1 protein abundance through allele-specific regulation of splicing and nonsense-mediated decay (NMD). We conclude that decreased OAS1 expression due to a common haplotype contributes to COVID-19 severity. Our results provide insight into molecular mechanisms through which early treatment with interferons could accelerate SARS-CoV-2 clearance and mitigate against severe COVID-19.