Single-cell RNA expression profiling of SARS-CoV-2-related ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in human trophectoderm and placenta.Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2021 02; 57(2):248-256.UO
To examine the characteristics and distribution of possible severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) target cells in the human trophectoderm (TE) and placenta.
Bioinformatics analysis was performed based on published single-cell transcriptomic datasets of early TE and first- and second-trimester human placentae. We conducted the transcriptomic analysis of 4198 early TE cells, 1260 first-trimester placental cells and 189 extravillous trophoblast cells (EVTs) from 24-week placentae (EVT_24W) using the SMART-Seq2 method. In addition, to confirm the bioinformatic results, we performed immunohistochemical staining of three first-trimester, three second-trimester and three third-trimester placentae from nine women recruited prospectively to this study. We evaluated the expression of the SARS-CoV-2-related molecules angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2).
Via bioinformatic analysis, we identified the existence of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression in human TE as well as in first- and second-trimester placentae. In the human TE, 54.4% of TE1 cells, 9.0% of cytotrophoblasts (CTBs), 3.2% of EVTs and 29.5% of syncytiotrophoblasts (STBs) were ACE2-positive. In addition, 90.7% of TE1 cells, 31.5% of CTBs, 22.1% of EVTs and 70.8% of STBs were TMPRSS2-positive. In placental cells, 20.4% of CTBs, 44.1% of STBs, 3.4% of EVTs from 8-week placentae (EVT_8W) and 63% of EVT_24W were ACE2-positive, while 1.6% of CTBs, 26.5% of STBs, 1.9% of EVT_8W and 20.1% of EVT_24W were TMPRSS2-positive. Pathway analysis revealed that EVT_24W cells that were positive for both ACE2 and TMPRSS2 (ACE2 + TMPRSS2-positive) were associated with morphogenesis of branching structure, extracellular matrix interaction, oxygen binding and antioxidant activity. The ACE2 + TMPRSS2-positive TE1 cells were correlated with an increased capacity for viral invasion, epithelial-cell proliferation and cell adhesion. Expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 was observed on immunohistochemical staining in first-, second- and third-trimester placentae.
ACE2- and TMPRSS2-positive cells are present in the human TE and placenta in all three trimesters of pregnancy, which indicates the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could spread via the placenta and cause intrauterine fetal infection. © 2020 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.