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Comparative analysis reveals the species-specific genetic determinants of ACE2 required for SARS-CoV-2 entry

By Wenlin Ren, Gaowei Hu, Xiaomin Zhao, Yuyan Wang, Hongyang Shi, Jun Lan, Yunkai Zhu, Jianping Wu, Devin J. Kenney, Douam Florian, Yimin Tong, Jin Zhong, Youhua Xie, Xinquan Wang, Zhenghong Yuan, Dongming Zhou, Rong Zhang, Qiang Ding

Posted 21 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.20.297242

Coronavirus interaction with its viral receptor is a primary genetic determinant of host range and tissue tropism. SARS-CoV-2 utilizes ACE2 as the receptor to enter host cell in a species-specific manner. We and others have previously shown that ACE2 orthologs from New World monkey, koala and mouse cannot interact with SARS-CoV-2 to mediate viral entry, and this defect can be restored by humanization of the restrictive residues in New World monkey ACE2. To better understand the genetic determinants behind the ability of ACE2 orthologs to support viral entry, we compared koala and mouse ACE2 sequences with that of human and identified the key residues in koala and mouse ACE2 that restrict viral receptor activity. Humanization of these critical residues rendered both koala and mouse ACE2 capable of binding the spike protein and facilitating viral entry. The single mutation that allowed for mouse ACE2 to serve as a viral receptor provides a potential avenue for the development of SARS-CoV-2 mouse model. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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