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Scientists are racing to understand exactly how SARS-CoV-2 spreads, to help prevent transmission and develop a vaccine. While it is known that SARS-CoV-2, uses a similar mechanism to infect human cells as SARS-CoV—the cause of the 2003 SARS epidemic—the exact cell types involved in the nose had not previously been pinpointed.
Now, a collaborative group of researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, University Medical Centre Groningen, and the University Cote d’Azur and CNRS, Nice have identified two specific cell types in the nose as the likely entry points for the virus.
Reported in Nature Medicine, in a paper entitled “SARS-CoV-2 entry factors are highly expressed in nasal epithelial cells together with innate immune genes”—the first publication with the Lung Biological Network—is part of an ongoing international effort to use Human Cell Atlas data to understand infection and disease.
Previous research had shown that nasal swabs from patients with symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 exhibit higher viral concentrations than those in throat swabs. This has implicated the nasal passage as a potential gateway for initial infection and transmission.
The researchers showed that goblet and ciliated cells in the nose have high levels of the entry proteins that SARS-CoV-2 uses to get into our cells. It further shows that cells in the eye and some other organs also contain the viral-entry proteins. The study also predicts how a key entry protein is regulated with other immune system genes and reveals potential targets for the development of treatments to reduce transmission.
To discover which cells could be involved in SARS-CoV-2 entry, researchers surveyed expression of viral entry-associated genes in single-cell RNA-sequencing data from multiple tissues from healthy human donors. They analysed multiple Human Cell Atl... Want to read more? You can view the complete article in the GEN Blog.
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