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Single-cell RNA expression profiling of ACE2, the putative receptor of Wuhan 2019-nCov

By Yu Zhao, Zixian Zhao, Yujia Wang, Yueqing Zhou, Yu Ma, Wei Zuo

Posted 26 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.26.919985

A novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December of 2019. This new coronavirus has resulted in thousands of cases of lethal disease in China, with additional patients being identified in a rapidly growing number internationally. 2019-nCov was reported to share the same receptor, Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), with SARS-Cov. Here based on the public database and the state-of-the-art single-cell RNA-Seq technique, we analyzed the ACE2 RNA expression profile in the normal human lungs. The result indicates that the ACE2 virus receptor expression is concentrated in a small population of type II alveolar cells (AT2). Surprisingly, we found that this population of ACE2-expressing AT2 also highly expressed many other genes that positively regulating viral reproduction and transmission. A comparison between eight individual samples demonstrated that the Asian male one has an extremely large number of ACE2-expressing cells in the lung. This study provides a biological background for the epidemic investigation of the 2019-nCov infection disease, and could be informative for future anti-ACE2 therapeutic strategy development.

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