Expression pattern and function of Covid receptor ACE2

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In a new publication from Biosafety and Health; DOI, Ruiting Li and Chengfeng Qin from Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, Beijing, China discuss the expression pattern and function of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2.

Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in late 2019, scientific research has been intensively focused on this newly emerged coronavirus. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), as a receptor mediating the cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2, has become an area of particular research interest.

In this article, the authors summarize recent research developments on the function, expression and distribution characteristics of ACE2 in the human body and within populations. The interaction mechanism of ACE2 and SARS-CoV-2 S protein is further discussed, focusing on key residues that effect interaction and binding ability of SARS-CoV-2 variants. This aim of this work is to facilitate researchers to better understand SARS-CoV-2 infection/transmission routes, adaptation mechanisms, to support the design of new treatment strategies.


  • ACE2 is abundantly expressed in gastrointestinal system, kidney, testis and heart.
  • The expression of ACE2 is upregulated in smokers, but not affected by sex and age.
  • Amino acids that form polar contacts between ACE2 and RBD are essential for binding.
  • Variants may change binding ability to ACE2 and cause cross‐species transmission.

Keywords: SARS‐CoV‐2, ACE2, Expression pattern, Interaction

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