What is the role of human protein ACE2 for SARS-CoV-2 infection of the human lung?

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Today, an article was published in bioRxiv (Hikmet et al) describing the presence in the human body of the enzyme Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), previously proposed to be the main target for coronavirus attachment to the surface of human cells.

Many of the earlier studies have shown inconsistent and contradictory results, in particular protein studies using antibodies proposed to be specific for ACE2. The results using validated antibodies of the Human Protein Atlas program, including also transcriptomics, proteomics and single cell analysis, suggests that the expression of ACE2 in the human respiratory system is limited, and the expression of the receptor in lung or respiratory epithelia on the protein level is yet to be confirmed. The lack of ACE2 protein expression in human respiratory system raises questions regarding the role of ACE2 for infection of human lungs and highlights the need to further explore the route of transmission during SARS-CoV-2 infection to understand the biology of the disease and to aid in the development of effective treatments to the viral infection.

Read the full article about ACE2: Hikmet et al (www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.31.016048v1)

Read more: Press release