Orthogonal genome-wide screens of bat cells identify MTHFD1 as a target of broad antiviral therapy.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Bats are responsible for the zoonotic transmission of several major viral diseases, including those leading to the 2003 SARS outbreak and likely the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While comparative genomics studies have revealed characteristic adaptations of the bat innate immune system, functional genomic studies are urgently needed to provide a foundation for the molecular dissection of the viral tolerance in bats. Here we report the establishment of genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) and CRISPR libraries for the screening of the model megabat, Pteropus alecto. We used the complementary RNAi and CRISPR libraries to interrogate P. alecto cells for infection with two different viruses: mumps virus and influenza A virus, respectively. Independent screening results converged on the endocytosis pathway and the protein secretory pathway as required for both viral infections. Additionally, we revealed a general dependence of the C1-tetrahydrofolate synthase gene, MTHFD1, for viral replication in bat cells and human cells. The MTHFD1 inhibitor, carolacton, potently blocked replication of several RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. We also discovered that bats have lower expression levels of MTHFD1 than humans. Our studies provide a resource for systematic inquiry into the genetic underpinnings of bat biology and a potential target for developing broad-spectrum antiviral therapy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Anderson, DE; Cui, J; Ye, Q; Huang, B; Tan, Y; Jiang, C; Zu, W; Gong, J; Liu, W; Kim, SY; Yan, BG; Sigmundsson, K; Lim, XF; Ye, F; Niu, P; Irving, AT; Zhang, H; Tang, Y; Zhou, X; Wang, Y; Tan, W; Wang, L-F; Tan, X

Published Date

  • September 28, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 118 / 39

PubMed ID

  • 34544865

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8488669

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.2104759118


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States