AXL is a candidate receptor for SARS-CoV-2 that promotes infection of pulmonary and bronchial epithelial cells.

Cell Research
Shuai WangXu Li


The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents a global public health challenge. The viral pathogen responsible, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), binds to the host receptor ACE2 through its spike (S) glycoprotein, which mediates membrane fusion and viral entry. Although the role of ACE2 as a receptor for SARS-CoV-2 is clear, studies have shown that ACE2 expression is extremely low in various human tissues, especially in the respiratory tract. Thus, other host receptors and/or co-receptors that promote the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells of the respiratory system may exist. In this study, we found that the tyrosine-protein kinase receptor UFO (AXL) specifically interacts with the N-terminal domain of SARS-CoV-2 S. Using both a SARS-CoV-2 virus pseudotype and authentic SARS-CoV-2, we found that overexpression of AXL in HEK293T cells promotes SARS-CoV-2 entry as efficiently as overexpression of ACE2, while knocking out AXL significantly reduces SARS-CoV-2 infection in H1299 pulmonary cells and in human primary lung epithelial cells. Soluble human recombinant AXL blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection in cells expressing high levels of AXL. The AXL expression level is well correlated with SARS-Co...Continue Reading


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Datasets Mentioned


Methods Mentioned

single-cell sequencing
tandem affinity purification
confocal microscopy

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