New findings on enzymes with an important role for SARS-CoV-2 infection

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Researchers within the HPA have described the presence of the enzyme ACE2 in the entire human body, which is suggested to be the key protein used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus for host cell entry and development of the disease COVID-19. In contrast to previous studies, the study shows that none or only very low levels of ACE2 protein is present in the normal respiratory system. The results are presented in Molecular Systems Biology.

The article presents a large-scale systematic evaluation of Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) expression in more than 150 different cell types both on the mRNA and protein level, and reports that ACE2 is expressed at very low levels - if any - in respiratory epithelial cells. "Considering the clinical manifestation of COVID-19 with acute respiratory distress syndrome and extensive damage to the lung parenchyma, the results highlight the need to further study the biological mechanisms responsible for infection and disease progression in COVID-19 disease", says Dr. Cecilia Lindskog, senior author on the paper and Head Director of the Human Protein Atlas tissue team at Uppsala University.

Link to article

Press release