SARS-CoV-2 Receptor ACE2 Is an Interferon-Stimulated Gene in Human Airway Epithelial Cells and Is Detected in Specific Cell Subsets across Tissues

HCA Lung Biological Network

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

168 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is pressing urgency to understand the pathogenesis of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus clade 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the disease COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein binds angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and in concert with host proteases, principally transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), promotes cellular entry. The cell subsets targeted by SARS-CoV-2 in host tissues and the factors that regulate ACE2 expression remain unknown. Here, we leverage human, non-human primate, and mouse single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) datasets across health and disease to uncover putative targets of SARS-CoV-2 among tissue-resident cell subsets. We identify ACE2 and TMPRSS2 co-expressing cells within lung type II pneumocytes, ileal absorptive enterocytes, and nasal goblet secretory cells. Strikingly, we discovered that ACE2 is a human interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) in vitro using airway epithelial cells and extend our findings to in vivo viral infections. Our data suggest that SARS-CoV-2 could exploit species-specific interferon-driven upregulation of ACE2, a tissue-protective mediator during lung injury, to enhance infection. Analysis of single-cell RNA-seq datasets from human, non-human primate, and mouse barrier tissues identifies putative cellular targets of SARS-CoV-2 on the basis of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression. ACE2 represents a previously unappreciated interferon-stimulated gene in human, but not mouse, epithelial tissues, identifying anti-viral induction of a host tissue-protective mechanism, but also a potential means for viral exploitation of the host response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1035.e19
JournalCell
Volume181
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 28 2020

Keywords

  • ACE2
  • COVID-19
  • ISG
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • human
  • influenza
  • interferon
  • mouse
  • non-human primate
  • scRNA-seq

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'SARS-CoV-2 Receptor ACE2 Is an Interferon-Stimulated Gene in Human Airway Epithelial Cells and Is Detected in Specific Cell Subsets across Tissues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this