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In Frontiers in cell and developmental biology

The world-wide Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was triggered by the widespread of a new strain of coronavirus named as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Multiple studies on the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 have been conducted immediately after the spread of the disease. However, the molecular pathogenesis of the virus and related diseases has still not been fully revealed. In this study, we attempted to identify new transcriptomic signatures as candidate diagnostic models for clinical testing or as therapeutic targets for vaccine design. Using the recently reported transcriptomics data of upper airway tissue with acute respiratory illnesses, we integrated multiple machine learning methods to identify effective qualitative biomarkers and quantitative rules for the distinction of SARS-CoV-2 infection from other infectious diseases. The transcriptomics data was first analyzed by Boruta so that important features were selected, which were further evaluated by the minimum redundancy maximum relevance method. A feature list was produced. This list was fed into the incremental feature selection, incorporating some classification algorithms, to extract qualitative biomarker genes and construct quantitative rules. Also, an efficient classifier was built to identify patients infected with SARS-COV-2. The findings reported in this study may help in revealing the potential pathogenic mechanisms of COVID-19 and finding new targets for vaccine design.

Zhang Yu-Hang, Li Hao, Zeng Tao, Chen Lei, Li Zhandong, Huang Tao, Cai Yu-Dong


COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, classification rule, signature, transcriptomic