SARS-CoV-2 receptors and entry genes are expressed in the human olfactory neuroepithelium and brain.

  • publication
  • 01-12-2020

Fodoulian L, Tuberosa J, Rossier D, Boillat M, Kan C, Pauli V, Egervari K, Lobrinus JA, Landis BN, Carleton A, Rodriguez I. iScience 2020 Nov;():101839. 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101839. S2589-0042(20)31036-1. PMC7685946.

Reports indicate an association between COVID-19 and anosmia, as well as the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virions in the olfactory bulb. To test whether the olfactory neuroepithelium may represent a target of the virus, we generated RNA-seq libraries from human olfactory neuroepithelia, in which we found substantial expression of the genes coding for the virus receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2), and for the virus internalization enhancer TMPRSS2. We analyzed a human olfactory single-cell RNA-seq dataset and determined that sustentacular cells, which maintain the integrity of olfactory sensory neurons, express and . ACE2 protein was highly expressed in a subset of sustentacular cells in human and mouse olfactory tissues. Finally, we found transcripts in specific brain cell types, both in mice and humans. Sustentacular cells thus represent a potential entry door for SARS-CoV-2 in a neuronal sensory system that is in direct connection with the brain.

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