ACE2 Shedding and Furin Abundance in Target Organs may Influence the Efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 Entry

Yuanchen Ma1 , # Open Modal Yinong Huang1 , 2 , # Open Modal Tao Wang1 Andy Peng Xiang1 Weijun Huang1 , * Open Modal Authors Info & Affiliations
The Open Bioinformatics Journal 22 Mar 2021 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1875036202114010001



Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a lineage B coronavirus, causing the worldwide outbreak of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Despite genetically closed to SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 seems to possess enhanced infectivity and subtle different clinical features, which may hamper the early screening of suspected patients as well as the control of virus transmission. Unfortunately, there are few tools to predict the potential target organ damage and possible clinical manifestations caused by such novel coronavirus.


To solve this problem, we use the online single-cell sequence datasets to analyze the expression of the major receptor in host cells that mediates the virus entry, including angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and its co-expressed membrane endopeptidases.


The results indicated the differential expression of ADAM10 and ADAM17 might contribute to the ACE2 shedding and affect the membrane ACE2 abundance. We further confirm a putative furin-cleavage site reported recently in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which may facilitate the virus-cell fusion. Based on these findings, we develop an approach that comprehensively analyzed the virus receptor expression, ACE2 shedding, membrane fusion activity, virus uptake and virus replication to evaluate the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 to different human organs.


Our results indicate that, in addition to airway epithelia, cardiac tissue and enteric canals are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 as well.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, scRNA-seq, ACE2, Endopeptidase, Furin, Viral entry.
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