The SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 is expressed in mouse pericytes but not endothelial cells: Implications for COVID-19 vascular research

Lars Muhl, Liqun He, Ying Sun, Maarja Andaloussi Mäe, Riikka Pietilä, Jianping Liu, Guillem Genové, Lei Zhang, Yuan Xie, Stefanos Leptidis, Giuseppe Mocci, Simon Stritt, Ahmed Osman, Andrey Anisimov, Karthik Amudhala Hemanthakumar, Markus Räsänen, Emil M. Hansson, Johan Björkegren, Michael Vanlandewijck, Klas BlomgrenTaija Mäkinen, Xiao Rong Peng, Yizhou Hu, Patrik Ernfors, Thomas D. Arnold, Kari Alitalo, Urban Lendahl, Christer Betsholtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Humanized mouse models and mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 virus are increasingly used to study COVID-19 pathogenesis, so it is important to learn where the SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 is expressed. Here we mapped ACE2 expression during mouse postnatal development and in adulthood. Pericytes in the CNS, heart, and pancreas express ACE2 strongly, as do perineurial and adrenal fibroblasts, whereas endothelial cells do not at any location analyzed. In a number of other organs, pericytes do not express ACE2, including in the lung where ACE2 instead is expressed in bronchial epithelium and alveolar type II cells. The onset of ACE2 expression is organ specific: in bronchial epithelium already at birth, in brain pericytes before, and in heart pericytes after postnatal day 10.5. Establishing the vascular localization of ACE2 expression is central to correctly interpret data from modeling COVID-19 in the mouse and may shed light on the cause of vascular COVID-19 complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1104
Number of pages16
JournalStem Cell Reports
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 May 2022

Keywords

  • Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)
  • COVID-19
  • Endothelial Cells
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vasculature
  • pericytes
  • single-cell RNA-sequencing

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