Tropism of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and Influenza Virus in Canine Tissue Explants

J Infect Dis. 2021 Sep 1;224(5):821-830. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiab002.


Background: Human spillovers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to dogs and the emergence of a highly contagious avian-origin H3N2 canine influenza virus have raised concerns on the role of dogs in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and their susceptibility to existing human and avian influenza viruses, which might result in further reassortment.

Methods: We systematically studied the replication kinetics of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, influenza A viruses of H1, H3, H5, H7, and H9 subtypes, and influenza B viruses of Yamagata-like and Victoria-like lineages in ex vivo canine nasal cavity, soft palate, trachea, and lung tissue explant cultures and examined ACE2 and sialic acid (SA) receptor distribution in these tissues.

Results: There was limited productive replication of SARS-CoV-2 in canine nasal cavity and SARS-CoV in canine nasal cavity, soft palate, and lung, with unexpectedly high ACE2 levels in canine nasal cavity and soft palate. Canine tissues were susceptible to a wide range of human and avian influenza viruses, which matched with the abundance of both human and avian SA receptors.

Conclusions: Existence of suitable receptors and tropism for the same tissue foster virus adaptation and reassortment. Continuous surveillance in dog populations should be conducted given the many chances for spillover during outbreaks.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV; SARS-CoV-2; dogs; ex vivo; explants; influenza.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / metabolism
  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / metabolism
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / physiology*
  • Influenza, Human / metabolism
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / virology*
  • Nasal Cavity / metabolism
  • Nasal Cavity / virology*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / metabolism
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology*
  • Trachea / metabolism
  • Trachea / virology*
  • Viral Tropism / physiology*


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2