ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202002.0194.v1
Online: 14 February 2020 (10:52:21 CET)
Recently, it was confirmed that ACE2 is the receptor of 2019-nCoV, the pathogen causing the recent outbreak of severe pneumonia in China. It is confused that ACE2 is widely expressed across a variety of organs and is expressed moderately but not highly in lung, which, however, is the major infected organ. It remains unclear why it is the lung but not other tissues among which ACE2 highly expressed is mainly infected. We hypothesized that there could be some other genes playing key roles in the entry of 2019-nCoV into human cells. Here we found that AGTR2 (angiotensin II receptor type 2), a G-protein coupled receptor, has interaction with ACE2 and is highly expressed in lung with a high tissue specificity. More importantly, simulation of 3D structure based protein-protein interaction reveals that AGTR2 shows a higher binding affinity with the Spike protein of 2019-nCov than ACE2 (energy score: -15.7 vs. -6.9 [kcal/mol]). Given these observations, we suggest that AGTR2 could be a putative novel gene for the the entry of 2019-nCoV into human cells but need further confirmation by biological experiments. Finally, a number of compounds, biologics and traditional Chinese medicine that could decrease the expression level of AGTR2 were predicted.