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Comparison of Transgenic and Adenovirus hACE2 Mouse Models for SARS-CoV-2 Infection

By Raveen Rathnasinghe, Shirin Strohmeier, Fatima Amanat, Virginia L. Gillespie, Florian Krammer, Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, Lynda Coughlan, Michael Schotsaert, Melissa Uccellini

Posted 06 Jul 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.06.190066 (published DOI: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1838955)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently causing a worldwide pandemic with high morbidity and mortality. Development of animal models that recapitulate important aspects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is critical for the evaluation of vaccines and antivirals, and understanding disease pathogenesis. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to use the same entry receptor as SARS-CoV-1, human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2)(1-3). Due to amino acid differences between murine and hACE2, inbred mouse strains fail to support high titer viral replication of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, a number of transgenic and knock-in mouse models, as well as viral vector-mediated hACE2 delivery systems have been developed. Here we compared the K18-hACE2 transgenic model to adenovirus-mediated delivery of hACE2 to the mouse lung. We show that K18-hACE2 mice replicate virus to high titers in both the lung and brain leading to lethality. In contrast, adenovirus-mediated delivery results in viral replication to lower titers limited to the lung, and no clinical signs of infection with a challenge dose of 104 plaque forming units. The K18-hACE2 model provides a stringent model for testing the ability of vaccines and antivirals to protect against disease, whereas the adenovirus delivery system has the flexibility to be used across multiple genetic backgrounds and modified mouse strains. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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