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Receptor utilization of angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) indicates a narrower host range of SARS-CoV-2 than that of SARS-CoV
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  • Ye Qiu,
  • Qiong Wang,
  • Jin-Yan Li,
  • Ce-Heng Liao,
  • Zhi-Jian Zhou,
  • Xing-Yi Ge
Ye Qiu
Hunan University
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Qiong Wang
Hunan University
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Jin-Yan Li
Hunan University
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Ce-Heng Liao
Hunan University
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Zhi-Jian Zhou
Hunan University
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Xing-Yi Ge
Hunan University
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Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

17 Jun 2020Submitted to Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
18 Jun 2020Assigned to Editor
18 Jun 2020Submission Checks Completed
27 Jun 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned

Abstract

Coronavirus (CoV) pandemics have become a huge threat to the public health worldwide in the recent decades. Typically, severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV (SARS-CoV) caused SARS pandemic in 2003 and SARS-CoV-2 caused the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Both viruses have been reported to originate from bats. Thus, direct or indirect interspecies transmission from bats to humans is required for the viruses to cause pandemics. Receptor utilization is a key factor determining the host range of viruses which is critical to the interspecies transmission. Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the receptor of both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, but only ACE2s of certain animals can be utilized by the viruses. Here, we employed pseudovirus cell-entry assay to evaluate the receptor-utilizing capability of ACE2s of 20 animals by the two viruses and found that SARS-CoV-2 utilized less ACE2s than SARS-CoV, indicating a narrower host range of SARS-CoV-2. Especially, SARS-CoV-2 tended not to use murine or non-mammal ACE2s. Meanwhile, pangolin CoV, another SARS-related coronavirus highly homologous to SARS-CoV-2 in its genome, yet showed similar ACE2 utilization profile with SARS-CoV rather than SARS-CoV-2. To clarify the mechanism underlying the receptor utilization, we compared the amino acid sequences of the 20 ACE2s and found 5 amino acid residues potentially critical for ACE2 utilization, including the N-terminal 20th and 42nd amino acids that may determine the different receptor utilization of SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 and pangolin CoV. Our studies promote the understanding of receptor utilization of pandemic coronaviruses, potentially contributing to the virus tracing, intermediate host screening and epidemic prevention for pathogenic coronaviruses.