Single-cell RNA-seq Data Analysis on the Receptor ACE2 Expression Reveals the Potential Risk of Different Human Organs Vulnerable to 2019-nCoV Infection

Front Med. 2020 Apr;14(2):185-192. doi: 10.1007/s11684-020-0754-0. Epub 2020 Mar 12.

Abstract

It has been known that, the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, which is considered similar to SARS-CoV, invades human cells via the receptor angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2). Moreover, lung cells that have ACE2 expression may be the main target cells during 2019-nCoV infection. However, some patients also exhibit non-respiratory symptoms, such as kidney failure, implying that 2019-nCoV could also invade other organs. To construct a risk map of different human organs, we analyzed the single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) datasets derived from major human physiological systems, including the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, and urinary systems. Through scRNA-seq data analyses, we identified the organs at risk, such as lung, heart, esophagus, kidney, bladder, and ileum, and located specific cell types (i.e., type II alveolar cells (AT2), myocardial cells, proximal tubule cells of the kidney, ileum and esophagus epithelial cells, and bladder urothelial cells), which are vulnerable to 2019-nCoV infection. Based on the findings, we constructed a risk map indicating the vulnerability of different organs to 2019-nCoV infection. This study may provide potential clues for further investigation of the pathogenesis and route of 2019-nCoV infection.

Keywords: 2019-nCoV; ACE2; single-cell RNA-seq.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / physiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Pandemics
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / genetics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / genetics*
  • RNA-Seq
  • Risk Factors
  • Single-Cell Analysis

Substances

  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • angiotensin converting enzyme 2

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2