Biomol Ther.  2021 May;29(3):273-281. 10.4062/biomolther.2020.226.

Differential Signaling and Virus Production in Calu-3 Cells and Vero Cells upon SARS-CoV-2 Infection

  • 1Institute of Medical Science, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Chuncheon 24252, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Biochemistry, College of Natural Sciences, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju 28644, Republic of Korea
  • 3Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Chuncheon 24252, Republic of Korea


Severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Signaling pathways that are essential for virus production have potential as therapeutic targets against COVID-19. In this study, we investigated cellular responses in two cell lines, Vero and Calu-3, upon SARS-CoV-2 infection and evaluated the effects of pathway-specific inhibitors on virus production. SARS-CoV-2 infection induced dephosphorylation of STAT1 and STAT3, high virus production, and apoptosis in Vero cells. However, in Calu-3 cells, SARS-CoV-2 infection induced long-lasting phosphorylation of STAT1 and STAT3, low virus production, and no prominent apoptosis. Inhibitors that target STAT3 phosphorylation and dimerization reduced SARS-CoV-2 production in Calu-3 cells, but not in Vero cells. These results suggest a necessity to evaluate cellular consequences upon SARS-CoV-2 infection using various model cell lines to find out more appropriate cells recapitulating relevant responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro.


Apoptosis; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; STAT1; STAT3; STAT3 phosphorylation
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