SARS-CoV-2 binds to ACE2 receptors on our cells but what are ACE2 receptors and what do they do?

Computer generated image of a globular virus.
Computer generated image of a globular virus.

We’ve known for some months now that the novel coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — binds to ACE2 receptors on the surface of some of our cells. In fact, the first SARS-CoV, which caused an epidemic in 2002–3, was also found to bind to these same ACE2 receptors. But what does this actually mean? And what are these ACE2 receptors and what do they even do?

SARS-CoV-2 Binding

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(Photograph: Leon Neal/Pool via Reuters)

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Steven Sankey

Biology graduate with a flair for the dramatic. I love writing and I love science so let’s combine the two. For more free articles see

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