Regulation of Epithelial Sodium Transport by SARS-CoV-2 Is Closely Related with Fibrinolytic System-Associated Proteins.

Department of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, College of Basic Medical Science, China Medical University, Shenyang 110122, China.

Biomolecules. 2023;(4)
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Dyspnea and progressive hypoxemia are the main clinical features of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Pulmonary pathology shows diffuse alveolar damage with edema, hemorrhage, and the deposition of fibrinogens in the alveolar space, which are consistent with the Berlin Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Criteria. The epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) is a key channel protein in alveolar ion transport and the rate-limiting step for pulmonary edema fluid clearance, the dysregulation of which is associated with acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome. The main protein of the fibrinolysis system, plasmin, can bind to the furin site of γ-ENaC and induce it to an activation state, facilitating pulmonary fluid reabsorption. Intriguingly, the unique feature of SARS-CoV-2 from other β-coronaviruses is that the spike protein of the former has the same furin site (RRAR) with ENaC, suggesting that a potential competition exists between SARS-CoV-2 and ENaC for the cleavage by plasmin. Extensive pulmonary microthrombosis caused by disorders of the coagulation and fibrinolysis system has also been seen in COVID-19 patients. To some extent, high plasmin (ogen) is a common risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection since an increased cleavage by plasmin accelerates virus invasion. This review elaborates on the closely related relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and ENaC for fibrinolysis system-related proteins, aiming to clarify the regulation of ENaC under SARS-CoV-2 infection and provide a novel reference for the treatment of COVID-19 from the view of sodium transport regulation in the lung epithelium.

Methodological quality

Publication Type : Review