Mechanisms of Coronavirus Nsp1-Mediated Control of Host and Viral Gene Expression

Keisuke Nakagawa, Shinji Makino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Many viruses disrupt host gene expression by degrading host mRNAs and/or manipulating translation activities to create a cellular environment favorable for viral replication. Often, virus-induced suppression of host gene expression, including those involved in antiviral responses, contributes to viral pathogenicity. Accordingly, clarifying the mechanisms of virus-induced disruption of host gene expression is important for understanding virus-host cell interactions and virus pathogenesis. Three highly pathogenic human coronaviruses (CoVs), including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, have emerged in the past two decades. All of them encode nonstructural protein 1 (nsp1) in their genomes. Nsp1 of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV exhibit common biological functions for inducing endonucleolytic cleavage of host mRNAs and inhibition of host translation, while viral mRNAs evade the nsp1-induced mRNA cleavage. SARS-CoV nsp1 is a major pathogenic determinant for this virus, supporting the notion that a viral protein that suppresses host gene expression can be a virulence factor, and further suggesting the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 nsp1, which has high amino acid identity with SARS-CoV nsp1, may serve as a major virulence factor. This review summarizes the gene expression suppression functions of nsp1 of CoVs, with a primary focus on SARS-CoV nsp1 and MERS-CoV nsp1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2 2021


  • coronaviruses
  • host gene expression suppression
  • mRNA degradation
  • nsp1
  • translational suppression
  • virulence factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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