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bioRxiv Preprint

Strong evidence suggests that human RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are critical factors for viral infection, yet there is no feasible experimental approach to map exact binding sites of RBPs across the SARS-CoV-2 genome systematically at a large scale. We investigated the role of RBPs in the context of SARS-CoV-2 by constructing the first in silico map of human RBP / viral RNA interactions at nucleotide-resolution using two deep learning methods (pysster and DeepRiPe) trained on data from CLIP-seq experiments. We evaluated conservation of RBP binding between 6 other human pathogenic coronaviruses and identified sites of conserved and differential binding in the UTRs of SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2 and MERS. We scored the impact of variants from 11 viral strains on protein-RNA interaction, identifying a set of gain-and loss of binding events. Lastly, we linked RBPs to functional data and OMICs from other studies, and identified MBNL1, FTO and FXR2 as potential clinical biomarkers. Our results contribute towards a deeper understanding of how viruses hijack host cellular pathways and are available through a comprehensive online resource (

Horlacher, M.; Oleshko, S.; Hu, Y.; Cantini, G.; Schinke, P.; Ghanbari, M.; Vergara, E. E.; Bittner, F.; Mueller, N.; Ohler, U.; Moyon, L.; Marsico, A.