Telomeric DNA harm response might improve susceptibility of aged individuals to COVID-19

SARS-CoV-2 causes the pandemic coronavirus illness COVID-19, that’s extra dangerous for aged individuals, who present extra extreme signs and are at greater danger of hospitalization and demise. A gaggle of Italian and American researchers led by Fabrizio d’Adda di Fagagna now studies that the expression of the cell receptor for the virus, ACE2, which is important for mediating cell entry of the virus, will increase within the lungs of getting older mice and people. They additional present that ACE2 expression will increase upon telomere shortening or dysfunction – widespread hallmarks of getting older – in cultured human cells and in mice. This improve is dependent upon a DNA harm response elicited by dysfunctional telomeres. The findings revealed immediately by EMBO Stories present one attainable molecular rationalization for the elevated sensitivity of aged individuals to SARS-CoV-2.

The explanations for the upper chance of extreme signs and demise within the aged in response to a SARS-CoV-2 an infection stay unclear. ACE2 expression has been positively associated to sufferers’ age, for instance within the nasal epithelium, the primary level of contact with SARS-CoV-2. Decrease ACE2 expression in kids relative to adults might clarify why COVID-19 is much less prevalent in kids, and the expression and distribution of the ACE2 receptor could also be related for the development and prognosis of COVID-19. The analysis findings now present that ACE2 protein expression is elevated in getting older human and mouse lungs, together with in alveolar epithelial sort II cells (ATII). Within the lungs, ACE2 is generally discovered on the floor of ATII cells, and these cells are thus possible the first goal of SARS-CoV-2 an infection within the lungs. SARS-CoV-2 primarily spreads by way of respiratory droplets and the lung is the primary goal organ of the virus. Certainly, pneumonia is the most typical complication seen in COVID-19 sufferers, at an prevalence of 91%.

With a purpose to reveal the molecular mechanism underlying the upregulation of ACE2 throughout getting older, the researchers turned to in vitro and in vivo fashions that recapitulate some key points of getting older. Growing older is related to telomere shortening and harm in a variety of tissues in several species, together with people. Telomeres are the areas on the ends of linear chromosomes which might be important to guard chromosome ends from shortening throughout repeated cell replication cycles, which might end result within the lack of essential genetic info. When telomeres turn into critically brief, they’re sensed as DNA breaks and activate DNA harm response pathways. D’Adda di Fagagna working at IFOM in Milan and CNR-IGM in Pavia and colleagues both inhibited the final DNA harm response by focusing on ATM, a significant enzyme of the DNA harm response pathway, or they inhibited the telomeric DNA harm response particularly utilizing telomeric antisense oligonucleotides (tASO). Each approaches forestall ACE2 gene and protein upregulation following telomere harm in getting older cultured cells and in mice. The group additionally used a cell tradition mannequin wherein the DNA harm response is activated particularly at telomeres within the absence of telomere shortening, with the identical outcomes. These findings point out that it’s the DNA harm response activation, moderately than telomeric shortening per se, that’s answerable for ACE2 upregulation. Understanding the mechanism of age susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 an infection is necessary for focused therapeutic approaches, which could in precept embrace the usage of tASO-mediated inhibition of the telomeric DNA harm response.

ACE2 additionally has a task within the regulation of blood stress and the stability of fluids and salts and is expressed in different human tissues, for instance the center and kidney. The findings reported right here might thus even have broader medical implications past COVID-19.

Nevertheless, additional analysis is required to ascertain whether or not lowering ACE2 expression has useful results on SARS-CoV-2 an infection charges and on the severity of COVID-19 signs in in vivo fashions. Additional work additionally must be carried out to grasp how DNA harm response signaling results in elevated Ace2 gene expression.


Journal reference:

Sepe, S., et al. (2021) DNA harm response at telomeres boosts the transcription of SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 throughout getting older. EMBO Stories.

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