We investigated SARS-CoV-2 potential tropism by surveying expression of viral entry-associated genes in single-cell RNA-sequencing data from multiple tissues from healthy human donors. We co-detected these transcripts in specific respiratory, corneal and intestinal epithelial cells, potentially explaining the high efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. These genes are co-expressed in nasal epithelial cells with genes involved in innate immunity, highlighting the cells’ potential role in initial viral infection, spread and clearance. The study offers a useful resource for further lines of inquiry with valuable clinical samples from COVID-19 patients and we provide our data in a comprehensive, open and user-friendly fashion at www.covid19cellatlas.org.
Fig : Schematic illustration depicts major anatomical regions in the human respiratory tree demonstrated in this study: nasal, lower airway and lung parenchyma (left). Expression of ACE2 is from airway epithelial cell datasets: Vieira Braga et al.26 (middle) and Deprez et al.27 (right). Datasets were retrieved from existing sources and cell clustering and nomenclature were retained based on the respective studies. For gene expression results in the dot plots, the dot size represents the proportion of cells within the respective cell type expressing the gene and the dot color represents the average gene expression level within the particular cell type
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