In vivo negative regulation of SARS-CoV-2 receptor, ACE2, by interferons and its genetic control

M. Azim Ansari, Emanuele Marchi, Narayan Ramamurthy, Dominik Aschenbrenner, Sophie Morgan, Carl-Philipp Hackstein, Shang-Kuan Lin, Rory Bowden, Eshita Sharma, Vincent Pedergnana, Suresh Venkateswaran, Subra Kugathasan (+15 others)
2021 Wellcome Open Research  
Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a receptor for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and differences in its expression may affect susceptibility to infection. Methods: We performed a genome-wide expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis using hepatitis C virus-infected liver tissue from 190 individuals. Results: We discovered that polymorphism in a type III interferon gene (IFNL4), which eliminates IFN-λ4 production, is associated with a two-fold
more » ... ncrease in ACE2 RNA expression. Conversely, among genes negatively correlated with ACE2 expression, IFN-signalling pathways were highly enriched and ACE2 was downregulated after IFN-α treatment. Negative correlation was also found in the gastrointestinal tract where inflammation driven IFN-stimulated genes were negatively correlated with ACE2 expression and in lung tissue from a murine model of SARS-CoV-1 infection suggesting conserved regulation of ACE2 across tissue and species. Conclusions: We conclude that ACE2 is likely a negatively-regulated interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) and carriage of IFNL4 gene alleles which modulates ISGs expression in viral infection may play a role in SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis with implications for therapeutic interventions.
doi:10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16559.1 fatcat:746ykc5zmvg7vpz6hktk4lfy2q