ACE2, the Receptor that Enables the Infection by SARS-CoV-2: Biochemistry, Structure, Allostery and Evaluation of the Potential Development of ACE2 Modulators

Lissy Z F GrossRicardo M Biondi


Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the human receptor that interacts with the Spike protein of coronaviruses, including the one that produced the 2020 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Thus, ACE2 is a potential target for drugs that disrupt the interaction of human cells with SARS-CoV-2 to abolish infection. There is also interest on drugs that inhibit or activate ACE2, i.e. for cardiovascular disorders or colitis. Compounds binding at alternative sites could allosterically affect the interaction with Spike protein. We here review biochemical, chemical biology and structural information on ACE2, including the recent cryoEM structures of full length ACE2. We conclude that ACE2 is very dynamic and that allosteric drugs may be developed to target ACE2. At the time of the 2020 pandemic, we suggest that available ACE2 inhibitors or activators in advanced development should be tested for their ability to allosterically displace the interaction between ACE2 and the Spike protein.


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