Relatedness of Supplement Aim to Parent Grant In the parent grant, we use cultured human taste (HBO) cells, pioneered at Monell by Co-Investigator Hakan Ozdener, to probe the metabolic sweet taste signaling pathway. HBO cells provide a useful model for probing taste signaling in culture, but they have also been shown useful for investigating the pathophysiology of certain neurotrophic viral diseases (e.g. Zika virus; see Ozdener et al., 2020). Using HBO cells to accomplish the Supplement Aim will advance our understanding of the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that adversely affect taste and olfaction. Although many studies have reported taste and olfactory loss in individuals with COVID-19 disease, the underlying mechanisms and cellular effects in taste cells are not well understood. Due to changes in taste function in patients with COVID-19, it will be of particular interest to the parent grant to know if the subset of sweet taste cells is susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2.
In this administrative supplement, we propose to determine if cultured human taste (HBO) cells used prominently in the parent grant are susceptible to human coronavirus strains, including SARS-CoV-2, thereby providing a cellular model for taste loss from COVID-19. Supplement Aim 1 through four sub-aims will (1) determine if the SARS-CoV-2 receptor (ACE2) and co-receptor (TMPRSS2) are expressed in HBO taste cells (Aim S1a); (2) investigate the kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 infection (Aim S1b); (3) assess cell viability and virus proliferation in these cells (Aim S1c); and (4) determine if particular subtypes of taste cells are targeted by SARS-CoV-2 (Aim S1d).
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