• Users Online: 3728
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page
Home About us Editorial board Ahead of print Browse Articles Search Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 23

SARS-CoV-2 interaction with human DNA methyl transferase 1: A potential risk for increasing the incidence of later chronic diseases in the survived patients

1 Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran
2 Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences; Pediatric Inherited Diseases Research Center, Research Institute for Primordial Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences; Iranians Cancer Control Charity Institute (MACSA), Isfahan, Iran

Date of Submission16-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance27-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication08-Feb-2022

Correspondence Address:
Mehrdad Zeinalian
Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_628_20

Rights and Permissions

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is the most discussed subject in medical researches worldwide. As the knowledge is expanded about the disease, more hypotheses become created. A recent study on the viral protein interaction map revealed that SARS-CoV-2 open reading frame 8 (ORF8) interacts with human DNA methyl transferase1 (DNMT1), an active epigenetic agent in DNA methylation. Moreover, DNMT1 is a contributor to a variety of chronic diseases which could cause some epigenetic dysregulation in infected cells, especially leukocytes, pancreatic beta, and endothelial cells. Regarding the fact that epigenetic alterations have a partial, but not completely reversible phenomena, it raises the question that if this interaction may cause long-term complications such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Accordingly, long follow-up studies on the recovered patients from COVID-19 are recommended.

Keywords: Chronic diseases, COVID-19, DNA Methyl Transferase, epigenetics, SARS-CoV-2

How to cite this article:
Fakhrolmobasheri M, Shiravi A, Zeinalian M. SARS-CoV-2 interaction with human DNA methyl transferase 1: A potential risk for increasing the incidence of later chronic diseases in the survived patients. Int J Prev Med 2022;13:23

How to cite this URL:
Fakhrolmobasheri M, Shiravi A, Zeinalian M. SARS-CoV-2 interaction with human DNA methyl transferase 1: A potential risk for increasing the incidence of later chronic diseases in the survived patients. Int J Prev Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Oct 1];13:23. Available from: https://www.ijpvmjournal.net/text.asp?2022/13/1/23/337396

  Introduction Top

SARS-CoV-2 is a novel and sophisticated member of coronaviridae which has currently become the greatest concern of health care systems worldwide. Since late 2019, when China reported the first cases of the disease as “pneumonia of unknown cause”,[1] researchers from almost all countries are trying to find out more aspects of the disease. Recent studies on the viral protein-protein interactions (PPI) have revealed at least 332 protein interactions that each potentiates to elaborate the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and pose more complications in the way of the discovery of the appropriate treatment. Among all these interactions, the interaction of viral open reading frame 8 (ORF8) with human DNA methyl transferase 1 (DNMT1) is a special PPI that draws the attention toward the possibility of long-term effects of COVID-19, even in patients recovered from the disease.[2] DNMT1 is a human enzyme acting as an epigenetic agent that physiologically maintains the normal DNA methylation pattern and in mitosis cooperates with the replication machine of DNA to maintain the same epigenetic pattern in the daughter cells.[3] Recent researches indicated that in pathologic states such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cancer abnormal DNMT1 expression and function may act as one of the key contributors to such diseases.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8]

This review has been written to raise the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 interaction with human DNMT1 may increase the potential risk of chronic disease incidence in the later years of life among the survived patients.

DNMT1 and COVID-19, the possible interactions

Chen et al.[7] presented that certain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of DNMT1 are associated with hypermethylated phosphatase receptor type beta (PTPRD) gene and further downregulation of insulin receptors. In another study, they reported that the blood glucose level decreases through inhibiting DNMT1 by aurintricabocylic acid in type 2 diabetes mellitus mice.[9] Chakravarthy et al.[8] regenerated the insulin-producing pancreatic β cells from α cells by inhibiting DNMT1 and Aristaless-related homeobox (Arx) in mice. Hou et al.[6] in their study on the latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA) patients provided information about the hypermethylation of fork head box P3 (FOXP3) gene by a group of agents including DNMT1 in regulatory CD4 + T cells. On the other side, T-cell global hypomethylation is another epigenetic dysregulation in leukocytes which was reported in systemic lupus erythematosus caused through inhibition of DNMT1 by overexpression of a protein phosphatase in Sunahori et al.[10] study. In the field of atherosclerosis, DNMT1 is more studied and is a subject of interest as a potential drug target for the prevention of cardiovascular disorders (CVD). Researches revealed that hypermethylated DNA regions coding for enzymes such as endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in endothelial cells are associated with the overexpression of DNMT1.[4] Moreover, hypermethylation of some DNA regions of macrophages that are responsible for classic activation of macrophages to proinflammatory M1 phenotype, the main cells contributing to plaque formation, are also associated with the overexpression of DNMT1.[11] Furthermore, Zhou et al.[12] reported that endothelial cells exposed to oscillatory shear flow, as a risk factor of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis, express more DNMT1 which leads us to the understanding of the great role of DNMT1 in the process of atherosclerosis. Moreover, insulin receptor dysfunction is also a major player in endothelial dysfunction. Meanwhile, the overexpression of DNMT1 in diabetic status contributes to insulin receptor dysfunction and further insulin resistance in endothelium which leads to atherosclerosis.[4] The most studied aspect of DNMT1 is in the field of oncology in which epigenetics has a considerable effect on tumorigenesis through hypermethylation of tumor suppressor regions and hypomethylation of protooncogene areas of the genome. Although the epigenetic hallmark of cancer cells is the global hypomethylation of the genome, the overexpression of DNMTs, particularly DNMT1, in myelodysplastic syndromes[13] and consequent hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes lead to consider DNMTs inhibitors such as azacitidine in anticancer treatments.[14]

As epigenetic dysregulations are partially reversible after removing the epigenetic factors,[15] it could be deducted that infection with SARS-CoV-2 may cause or accelerate the incidence of later chronic diseases, particularly, diabetes and atherosclerosis in recovered patients. Moreover, the course of underlying diseases may worsen in diabetic and CVD patients during and after the infection with SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, a 12-year follow-up study on patients recovered from SARS-CoV reported a greater rate of hospitalization and altered lipid metabolism in the recovered patients comparing to the control group. Although the authors concluded that using high doses of corticosteroids was the possible cause of later metabolic diseases in the recovered patients, the role of SARS-CoV infection as the underlying cause for these metabolic malfunctions is not ignorable.[16] Moreover, the recent studies on COVID-19 patients have revealed some alterations in the plasma metabolic and lipidomic profiles which are mainly caused by infection-induced liver dysfunction. The authors indicated that SARS-CoV-2 changes the cellular metabolic pathways for viral replication; in other words, the virus “hijacks the cellular metabolism”. The considerable point is that they reported that patients presented liver dysfunction and altered serum metabolic factors even after recovering from the disease.[17] [Figure 1]
Figure 1: A brief review over possible outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 protein-protein interaction with human DNAmethyltransfrase1 (DNMT1)

Click here to view

  Conclusion Top

Altogether, COVID-19 may cause or accelerate the occurrence of diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, and even autoimmune diseases through interaction with DNMT1 function and consequent epigenetic changes [Figure 1]. Moreover, this interaction in the patients with such underlying conditions may even worsen the course of their disease during and after the infection with SARS-CoV-2. Accordingly, follow-up studies on recovered patients of COVID-19 are highly recommended to assess this possibility.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

WHO | Pneumonia of unknown cause – China [Internet]. WHO. World Health Organization. Available from: http://www.who.int/csr/don/05-january-2020-pneumonia-of-unkown-cause-china/en/. [Last accessed 2020 May 31].  Back to cited text no. 1
Gordon DE, Jang GM, Bouhaddou M, Xu J, Obernier K, White KM, et al. A SARS-CoV-2 protein interaction map reveals targets for drug repurposing. Nature 2020;583:459-68.  Back to cited text no. 2
Hervouet E, Vallette FM, Cartron P-F. Dnmt1/transcription factor interactions. Genes Cancer 2010;1:434-43.  Back to cited text no. 3
Zaina S. Unraveling the DNA methylome of atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Lipidol 2014;25:148-53.  Back to cited text no. 4
Jiang D, Sun M, You L, Lu K, Gao L, Hu C, et al. DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation are associated with the degree of coronary atherosclerosis in elderly patients with coronary heart disease. Life Sci 2019;224:241-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Hou C, Zhong Y, Wang Z, Ming Z, Huang G, Ouyang L, et al. STAT3-mediated epigenetic silencing of FOXP3 in LADA T cells is regulated through HDAC5 and DNMT1. Clin Immunol 2018;191:116-25.  Back to cited text no. 6
Chen Y-T, Lin W-D, Liao W-L, Lin Y-J, Chang J-G, Tsai F-J. PTPRD silencing by DNA hypermethylation decreases insulin receptor signaling and leads to type 2 diabetes. Oncotarget 2015;6:12997-3005.  Back to cited text no. 7
Chakravarthy H, Gu X, Enge M, Dai X, Wang Y, Damond N, et al. Converting adult pancreatic islet α cells into β cells by targeting both Dnmt1 and Arx. Cell Metab 2017;25:622-34.  Back to cited text no. 8
Chen Y-T, Liao J-W, Tsai Y-C, Tsai F-J. Inhibition of DNA methyltransferase 1 increases nuclear receptor subfamily 4 group A member 1 expression and decreases blood glucose in type 2 diabetes. Oncotarget 2016;7:39162-70.  Back to cited text no. 9
Sunahori K, Nagpal K, Hedrich CM, Mizui M, Fitzgerald LM, Tsokos GC. The catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2Ac) promotes DNA hypomethylation by suppressing the phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase (MEK)/phosphorylated ERK/DNMT1 protein pathway in T-cells from controls and systemic lupus erythematosus patients. J Biol Chem 2013;288:21936-44.  Back to cited text no. 10
Yu J, Qiu Y, Yang J, Bian S, Chen G, Deng M, et al. DNMT1-PPARγ pathway in macrophages regulates chronic inflammation and atherosclerosis development in mice. Sci Rep 2016;6:30053.  Back to cited text no. 11
Zhou J, Li Y-S, Wang K-C, Chien S. Epigenetic mechanism in regulation of endothelial function by disturbed flow: Induction of DNA hypermethylation by DNMT1. Cell Mol Bioeng 2014;7:218-24.  Back to cited text no. 12
Hervouet E, Lalier L, Debien E, Cheray M, Geairon A, Rogniaux H, et al. Disruption of Dnmt1/PCNA/UHRF1 interactions promotes tumorigenesis from human and mice glial cells. PLoS O 2010;5:e11333.  Back to cited text no. 13
Zhou Z, Li H-Q, Liu F. DNA methyltransferase inhibitors and their therapeutic potential. Curr Top Med Chem 2018;18:2448-57.  Back to cited text no. 14
Eckstein M, Rea M, Fondufe-Mittendorf YN. Transient and permanent changes in DNA methylation patterns in inorganic arsenic-mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2017;331:6-17.  Back to cited text no. 15
Wu Q, Zhou L, Sun X, Yan Z, Hu C, Wu J, et al. Altered lipid metabolism in recovered SARS patients twelve years after infection. Sci Rep 2017;7:9110.  Back to cited text no. 16
Wu D, Shu T, Yang X, Song J-X, Zhang M, Yao C, et al. Plasma metabolomic and lipidomic alterations associated with COVID-19. medRxiv 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.05.20053819  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Figure 1]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded93    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal