SARS-CoV-2 variants, its recombinants and epigenomic exploitation of host defenses

Nitin K. Saksena, Srinivasa Bonam Reddy, Monica Miranda-Saksena, Thyago H.S. Cardoso, Edson M.A. Silva, Juliana C. Ferreira, Wael M. Rabeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since 2003, we have seen the emergence of novel viruses, such as SARS-CoV-1, MERS, ZIKA, swine flu virus H1N1, Marburg, Monkeypox, Ebola, and SARS-CoV-2, but none of them gained pandemic proportions similar to SARS-CoV-2. This could be attributed to unique viral traits, allowing its rapid global dissemination following its emergence in October 2019 in Wuhan, China, which appears to be primarily driven by the emergence of highly transmissible and virulent variants that also associate, in some cases, with severe disease and considerable mortality caused by fatal pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in infected individuals. Mechanistically, several factors are involved in viral pathogenesis, and epigenetic alterations take the front seat in host-virus interactions. The molecular basis of all viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2, tightly hinges on the transitory silencing of the host gene machinery via epigenetic modulation. SARS-CoV-2 also hijacks and subdues the host gene machinery, leading to epigenetic modulation of the critical host elements responsible for antiviral immunity. Epigenomics is a powerful, unexplored avenue that can provide a profound understanding of virus-host interactions and lead to the development of epigenome-based therapies and vaccines to counter viruses. This review discusses current developments in SARS-CoV-2 variation and its role in epigenetic modulation in infected hosts. This review provides an overview, especially in the context of emerging viral strains, their recombinants, and their possible roles in the epigenetic exploitation of host defense and viral pathogenesis. It provides insights into host-virus interactions at the molecular, genomic, and immunological levels and sheds light on the future of epigenomics-based therapies for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number166836
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Epigenome
  • Epigenomics
  • Genomics
  • Immunology
  • Methylome
  • Non-coding RNA
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Therapeutics
  • miRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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