SARS-CoV-2 receptors and entry genes are expressed in the human olfactory neuroepithelium and brain

Published: 09-11-2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/4cynjrymgf.1
Leon Fodoulian,
Joel Tuberosa,
Daniel Rossier,
Madlaina Boillat,
Chenda Kan,
Véronique Pauli,
Kristof Egervari,
Johannes A. Lobrinus,
Basile N. Landis,
Alan Carleton,
Ivan Rodriguez


Reports indicate an association between COVID-19 and anosmia, as well as the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virions in the olfactory bulb. To test whether the olfactory neuroepithelium may represent a target of the virus, we generated RNA-seq libraries from human olfactory neuroepithelia, in which we found substantial expression of the genes coding for the virus receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2), and for the virus internalization enhancer TMPRSS2.


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For the detailed methods, see Fodoulian et al., iScience (2020) Sequencing data are available in the NCBI GEO database under the accession number GSE151973. In summary, intraoperative biopsies of the respiratory epithelium or of the olfactory epithelium were collected in the nasal cavity of anesthetized patients. The bulk RNA of each biopsy was extracted and sequenced with the Illumina HiSeq®2500 Sequencing system. Sequence reads were mapped onto the human genome assembly GRCm38 using STAR and gene transcription levels were quantified with featureCounts, using a modified version of the Ensembl GTF annotation v99. We used DESeq2 to identify differentially expressed genes between the respiratory and the olfactory epithelium. *_featureCounts.txt Outputs of featureCounts Human_OE_RE_RNAseq_quantifications.rds Quantification matrix obtained by merging the featureCounts outputs (rows = genes, columns = samples) Human_OE_RE_RNAseq_DE.csv DESeq2 results