KIM-1/TIM-1 is a Receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in Lung and Kidney

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2022 Jan 11:2020.09.16.20190694. doi: 10.1101/2020.09.16.20190694.


SARS-CoV-2 precipitates respiratory distress by infection of airway epithelial cells and is often accompanied by acute kidney injury. We report that Kidney Injury Molecule-1/T cell immunoglobulin mucin domain 1 (KIM-1/TIM-1) is expressed in lung and kidney epithelial cells in COVID-19 patients and is a receptor for SARS-CoV-2. Human and mouse lung and kidney epithelial cells express KIM-1 and endocytose nanoparticles displaying the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (virosomes). Uptake was inhibited by anti-KIM-1 antibodies and TW-37, a newly discovered inhibitor of KIM-1-mediated endocytosis. Enhanced KIM-1 expression by human kidney tubuloids increased uptake of virosomes. KIM-1 binds to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein in vitro . KIM-1 expressing cells, not expressing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), are permissive to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Thus, KIM-1 is an alternative receptor to ACE2 for SARS-CoV-2. KIM-1 targeted therapeutics may prevent and/or treat COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Preprint