Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

A Hint on the COVID-19 Risk: Population Disparities in Gene Expression of Three Receptors of SARS-CoV

Version 1 : Received: 26 February 2020 / Approved: 27 February 2020 / Online: 27 February 2020 (12:45:26 CET)

How to cite: Cai, G.; Cui, X.; Zhu, X.; Zhou, J. A Hint on the COVID-19 Risk: Population Disparities in Gene Expression of Three Receptors of SARS-CoV. Preprints 2020, 2020020408 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202002.0408.v1). Cai, G.; Cui, X.; Zhu, X.; Zhou, J. A Hint on the COVID-19 Risk: Population Disparities in Gene Expression of Three Receptors of SARS-CoV. Preprints 2020, 2020020408 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202002.0408.v1).

Abstract

The current spreading novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is highly infectious and pathogenic and has attracted global attention. Recent studies have found that SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV share around 80% of homology and use the same cell entry receptor, ACE2. These inspired us to study other receptors of SARS-CoV, which may be used for SARS-CoV-2 binding as well. In this study, we screened the gene expression of three receptors (ACE2, DC-SIGN and L-SIGN) in four datasets of normal lung tissue from lung adenocarcinoma patients and two single-cell RNA sequencing datasets from normal lung and bronchial epithelial cells separately. No significant difference in gene expression of these three receptors were found between gender groups (male vs female). We found higher gene expression of DC-SIGN in elder with age>60 and higher gene expression of L-SIGN in Caucasian than Asian. Similar to ACE2, we observed significantly higher DC-SIGN gene expression in the lungs of smokers, especially former smokers. However, smokers upregulate ACE2 and DC-SIGN gene expression in different cell types. In the whole lung, ACE2 is actively expressed in remodeled Alveolar Type II cells of former smokers, while DC-SIGN is largely expressed in monocytes of former smokers and dendritic cells of current smokers. In bronchial epithelium, no obvious gene expression of DC-SIGN and L-SIGN was observed while ACE2 was found to be actively expressed in goblet cells of current smokers and club cells of non-smokers. In conclusion, our findings may indicate that smokers, especially former smokers, and people over 60 have higher risk and are more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Also, this study provides hints on possible SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity mechanisms in lung infection.

Subject Areas

Wuhan SARS-CoV-2; ACE2; DC-SIGN; L-SIGN; expression; susceptibility; race; age; gender; smoking; single cell

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