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Well-differentiated liver cancers reveal the potential link between ACE2 dysfunction and metabolic breakdown

Lise Desquilles 1 Luis Cano 1 Gevorg Ghukasyan 2 Nicolas Mouchet 2 Clemence Landreau 1 Anne Corlu 1 Bruno Clement 1 Bruno Turlin 1 Romain Desert 1 Orlando Musso 1, * 
* Corresponding author
2 H2P2 - H2P2 - Histo Pathologie Hight Precision
UR1 - Université de Rennes 1, Biosit : Biologie - Santé - Innovation Technologique - Structure Fédérative de Recherche en Biologie et Santé de Rennes
Abstract : Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the receptor of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) is a coreceptor. Abnormal hepatic function in COVID-19 suggests specific or bystander liver disease. Because liver cancer cells express the ACE2 viral receptor, they are widely used as models of SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyze ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression and localization in human liver cancers and in non-tumor livers. We studied ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in transcriptomic datasets totaling 1503 liver cancers, followed by high-resolution confocal multiplex immunohistochemistry and quantitative image analysis of a 41-HCC tissue microarray. In cancers, we detected ACE2 and TMPRSS2 at the biliary pole of tumor hepatocytes. In whole mount sections of five normal liver samples, we identified ACE2 in hepatocyte's bile canaliculi, biliary epithelium, sinusoidal and capillary endothelial cells. Tumors carrying mutated beta-catenin showed ACE2 DNA hypomethylation and higher mRNA and protein expression, consistently with predicted beta-catenin response sites in the ACE2 promoter. Finally, ACE2 and TMPRSS2 co-expression networks highlighted hepatocyte-specific functions, oxidative stress and inflammation, suggesting a link between inflammation, ACE2 dysfunction and metabolic breakdown.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 6, 2022 - 11:50:34 AM
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Lise Desquilles, Luis Cano, Gevorg Ghukasyan, Nicolas Mouchet, Clemence Landreau, et al.. Well-differentiated liver cancers reveal the potential link between ACE2 dysfunction and metabolic breakdown. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2022, 12 (1), pp.1859. ⟨10.1038/s41598-021-03710-0⟩. ⟨hal-03592989⟩



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