Bev Koller, PhD (Associate Professor, Genetics) has been awarded a new R21 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) for her project titled “Modeling the contribution of coronavirus cellular tropism to viral pathogenesis”.
Although the coronaviruses NL63, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 differ in their disease pathogenesis, each uses ACE2 as the receptor by which it gains entry to the cell. A growing understanding of species differences in ACE2 structure and, perhaps more importantly, in tissue-specific patterns of expression has underscored the potential limitations in the use of mouse models for the study of disease pathogenesis of coronaviruses that rely on ACE2 for cellular entry. Dr. Koller proposes to implement a strategy for the rapid generation of mouse models in which human ACE2 expression is limited to individual or multiple airway epithelial populations. Using these lines, she will examine the impact of the cellular pattern of ACE2 expression in the respiratory tract on the sequence of events following exposure to coronaviruses that depend on this receptor for cell entry.