What is it about?

Pooled CRISPR screening allows us to test the function of every gene in the human genome. Using this approach, we found a new receptor that can bind SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and suppress infection. This receptor is part of an ancient family of innate immune receptors and is highly expressed in the lungs of COVID-19 patients.

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Why is it important?

While we have a deep understanding of our bodies immune system, we don’t specifically know as much about how our body protects us from highly pathogenic coronaviruses. Our whole genome functional screen for human proteins that can bind to SARS-CoV-2 helped us find a new innate immune receptor that suppresses SARS-CoV-2 infection. From a basic perspective this is interesting, because any new player in the immune system will help us better understand our body’s defense systems. From a medical perspective, this new inhibitory receptor could be used to treat both SARS-CoV-2 infection and possibly other endemic or emerging viruses, or even other non-infectious diseases like fibrosis.


From our work and others published at the same time, we can see that this new anti-SARS-CoV-2 is most like very important during COVID-19 infection. Previous work has shown this receptor can also block another unrelated virus. Overall, we believe this receptor may represent a new and broad acting antiviral barrier that protects us from a viral infections. We also found this receptor can suppress fibrosis pathways. Thus, it is possible that we can use this new molecule therapeutically to both protect from infection, and prevent lung or other tissue fibrosis.

Greg Neely
University of Sydney

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Fibroblast-expressed LRRC15 is a receptor for SARS-CoV-2 spike and controls antiviral and antifibrotic transcriptional programs, PLoS Biology, February 2023, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001967.
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