Does the human placenta express the canonical cell entry mediators for SARS-CoV-2?

Abstract

The pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has affected more than 10 million people, including pregnant women. To date, no consistent evidence for the vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 exists. The novel coronavirus canonically utilizes the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor and the serine protease TMPRSS2 for cell entry. Herein, building upon our previous single-cell study (Pique-Regi, 2019), another study, and new single-cell/nuclei RNA-sequencing data, we investigated the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 throughout pregnancy in the placenta as well as in third-trimester chorioamniotic membranes. We report that co-transcription of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 is negligible in the placenta, thus not a likely path of vertical transmission for SARS-CoV-2. By contrast, receptors for Zika virus and cytomegalovirus, which cause congenital infections, are highly expressed by placental cell types. These data show that the placenta minimally expresses the canonical cell-entry mediators for SARS-CoV-2.

Data availability

Placenta and decidua scRNA-seq data from first-trimester samples were downloaded through ArrayExpress (E-MTAB-6701). Data for third-trimester samples previously collected by our group are available through NIH dbGAP (accession number phs001886.v1.p1), and newly generated second-trimester scRNA-seq and third-trimester snRNA-seq data are being deposited in the same repository.

The following data sets were generated
The following previously published data sets were used

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Roger Pique-Regi

    Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    For correspondence
    rpique@wayne.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1262-2275
  2. Roberto Romero

    Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    For correspondence
    prbchiefstaff@med.wayne.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4448-5121
  3. Adi L Tarca

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1712-7588
  4. Francesca Luca

    Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8252-9052
  5. Yi Xu

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Adnan Alazizi

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Yaozhu Leng

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Chaur-Dong Hsu

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Nardhy Gomez-Lopez

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, United States
    For correspondence
    ngomezlo@med.wayne.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3406-5262

Funding

National Institutes of Health (HHSN275201300006C)

  • Roberto Romero

Wayne State University (Perinatal Initiative)

  • Adi L Tarca
  • Nardhy Gomez-Lopez

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: The collection and use of human materials for research purposes were approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Wayne State University School of Medicine [IRB# 110605MP2F(RCR), IRB# 082403MP2F(5R), and IRB# 031318MP2F]. All participating women provided written informed consent prior to sample collection.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Stephen CJ Parker, University of Michigan, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: May 13, 2020
  2. Accepted: July 6, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 14, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: July 17, 2020 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record updated: July 17, 2020 (version 3)

Copyright

This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

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  1. Roger Pique-Regi
  2. Roberto Romero
  3. Adi L Tarca
  4. Francesca Luca
  5. Yi Xu
  6. Adnan Alazizi
  7. Yaozhu Leng
  8. Chaur-Dong Hsu
  9. Nardhy Gomez-Lopez
(2020)
Does the human placenta express the canonical cell entry mediators for SARS-CoV-2?
eLife 9:e58716.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.58716
  1. Further reading

Further reading

    1. Epidemiology and Global Health
    2. Medicine
    3. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
    Edited by Diane M Harper et al.
    Collection

    eLife has published the following articles on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

    1. Epidemiology and Global Health
    2. Genetics and Genomics
    Shuai Yuan, Jie Chen ... Susanna C Larsson
    Research Article

    Background: Whether the positive associations of smoking and alcohol consumption with gastrointestinal diseases are causal is uncertain. We conducted this Mendelian randomization (MR) to comprehensively examine associations of smoking and alcohol consumption with common gastrointestinal diseases.

    Methods: Genetic variants associated with smoking initiation and alcohol consumption at the genome-wide significance level were selected as instrumental variables. Genetic associations with 24 gastrointestinal diseases were obtained from the UK Biobank, FinnGen study, and other large consortia. Univariable and multivariable MR analyses were conducted to estimate the overall and independent MR associations after mutual adjustment for genetic liability to smoking and alcohol consumption.

    Results: Genetic predisposition to smoking initiation was associated with increased risk of 20 of 24 gastrointestinal diseases, including 7 upper gastrointestinal diseases (gastroesophageal reflux, esophageal cancer, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, acute gastritis, chronic gastritis and gastric cancer), 4 lower gastrointestinal diseases (irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), 8 hepatobiliary and pancreatic diseases (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer, cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, acute and chronic pancreatitis), and acute appendicitis. Fifteen out of 21 associations persisted after adjusting for genetically-predicted alcohol consumption. Genetically-predicted higher alcohol consumption was associated with increased risk of duodenal cancer, alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, and chronic pancreatitis; however, the association for duodenal ulcer did not remain after adjustment for genetic predisposition to smoking initiation.

    Conclusion: This study provides MR evidence supporting causal associations of smoking with a broad range of gastrointestinal diseases, whereas alcohol consumption was associated with only a few gastrointestinal diseases.

    Funding: The Natural Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of Zhejiang Province; National Natural Science Foundation of China; Key Project of Research and Development Plan of Hunan Province; the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation; the Swedish Research Council; the Swedish Cancer Society.