Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2: SARS-CoV-2 Receptor and Regulator of the Renin Angiotensin System

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE2) has a multiplicity of physiological roles that revolve around its trivalent function: a negative regulator of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), facilitator of amino acid transport, and the SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 receptor. ACE2 is widely expressed, including, in the lungs, cardiovascular system, gut, kidneys, central nervous system, and adipose tissue. ACE2 has recently been identified as the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, the infective agent responsible for COVID-19,
providing a critical link between immunity, inflammation, ACE2, and cardiovascular disease. Although sharing a close evolutionary relationship with SARS-CoV, the receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 differs in several key amino acid residues, allowing for stronger binding affinity with the human ACE2 receptor, which may account for the greater pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2.

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