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SARS-CoV-2 entry factors are highly expressed in nasal epithelial cells together with innate immune genes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Rachel Queen, Professor Majlinda LakoORCiD


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We investigated SARS-CoV-2 tropism by surveying expression of viral entry-associated genes in single-cell RNA-seq data from human tissues. We co-detected these transcripts in specific respiratory, corneal, and intestinal epithelial cells, potentially explaining the high efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. These genes are co-expressed in nasal epithelial cells with those involved in innate immunity, highlighting their potential roles in initial viral infection, spread and clearance. The data are available online at

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sungnak W, Huang N, Bécavin C, Berg M, Queen R, Litvinukova M, Talavera-López C, Maatz H, Reichart D, Sampaziotis F, Worlock KB, Yoshida M, Barnes JL, HCA Lung Biological Network, Lako M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Medicine

Year: 2020

Volume: 26

Pages: 681-687

Print publication date: 01/05/2020

Online publication date: 23/04/2020

Acceptance date: 31/03/2020

ISSN (print): 1078-8956

ISSN (electronic): 1546-170X

Publisher: Nature


DOI: 10.1038/s41591-020-0868-6

Notes: This is a collaborative work between groups working on HCA Lung Network. My group shared the single cell RNA-Seq data which indicated the ocular surface to be an additional entry route for SARS-CoV-2 infection. This was a novel finding which increased the value of the manuscript and its conclusions. Rachel Queen the bioinformatician that works closely with my group and analysed the data is in the first line author list and myself and Dr. Joseph Collin and Dr. Darin Zerti from my group in the list of authors summarised as HCA Lung NETWORK.


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