Prof.Wang Peihui's team from SDU found that coronavirus infection and cytokine storm can induce the expression of ACE2, the cellular receptor of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-nCoV) and 2019-nCoV, which may accelerate the infection and transmission of these viruses. The results have been published on biorxiv online (https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.24.963348).
Prof. Wang's team quickly constructed the expression vector of virus coding gene after the releasement of 2019-nCoV genome, which has been provided to hundreds of domestic and foreign universities including Harvard University,University of Cambridge, Columbia University, Tsinghua University and Peking University.
Recently, their research shows that SARS CoV, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), as well as other respiratory viruses such as rhinovirus and influenza A virus H1N1 can induce the expression of 2019-nCoV cell receptor ACE2. Cytokines such as interferon (IFN)-beta and IFN-gamma can also stimulate the expression of ACE2, which indicates that the "cytokine storm" caused by 2019-nCoV infection can not only damage human organs, but also promote the further infection and transmission of this virus. It is speculated that the virus can activate the immune system and induce the expression of various cytokines including IFNs. These cytokines can promote the transcription and expression of ACE2 by activating downstream signaling pathways such as JNK pathway through their receptors.
ACE2 is the surface receptor for SARS-CoV and 2019-nCoV for entering into the host cells. It is the key factor for successful infection of these viruses. For the first time, this study indicates that SARS-CoV and 2019-nCoV may enhance their infection and transmission by inducing ACE2 receptor expression. ACE2 may be used as the cell receptor of this kind of viruses to enter into the host cells for their reproduction and further transmission. ACE2 is the key for these viruses to open the door of host cells, and reducing the expression of ACE2 can prevent them from entering into the cell. Therefore, the drugs which can reduce the expression of ACE2, such as siRNA drugs, can be stored for the possible disease outbreak in the future.
This study, for the first time, reveals that 2019-nCoV may enhance its infection and transmission by inducing the expression of its receptor ACE2, which is of great significance to understanding the mechanism of 2019-nCoV infection and provides new ideas for the prevention and treatment of these kinds of viruses.
Written by：Wang Peihui