The glycosylation in SARS-CoV-2 and its receptor ACE2

Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2021 Nov 15;6(1):396. doi: 10.1038/s41392-021-00809-8.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a highly infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has infected more than 235 million individuals and led to more than 4.8 million deaths worldwide as of October 5 2021. Cryo-electron microscopy and topology show that the SARS-CoV-2 genome encodes lots of highly glycosylated proteins, such as spike (S), envelope (E), membrane (M), and ORF3a proteins, which are responsible for host recognition, penetration, binding, recycling and pathogenesis. Here we reviewed the detections, substrates, biological functions of the glycosylation in SARS-CoV-2 proteins as well as the human receptor ACE2, and also summarized the approved and undergoing SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics associated with glycosylation. This review may not only broad the understanding of viral glycobiology, but also provide key clues for the development of new preventive and therapeutic methodologies against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / genetics*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / metabolism
  • COVID-19 / genetics*
  • COVID-19 / metabolism
  • COVID-19 / pathology
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / genetics
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / genetics*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / genetics


  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • membrane protein, SARS-CoV-2
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2