ACE2-Based Decoy Receptors for SARS Coronavirus 2

Wenyang Jing, Erik Procko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


SARS coronavirus 2 is neutralized by proteins that block receptor-binding sites on spikes that project from the viral envelope. In particular, substantial research investment has advanced monoclonal antibody therapies to the clinic where they have shown partial efficacy in reducing viral burden and hospitalization. An alternative is to use the host entry receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), as a soluble decoy that broadly blocks SARS-associated coronaviruses with limited potential for viral escape. Here, we summarize efforts to engineer higher affinity variants of soluble ACE2 that rival the potency of affinity-matured antibodies. Strategies have also been used to increase the valency of ACE2 decoys for avid spike interactions and to improve pharmacokinetics via IgG fusions. Finally, the intrinsic catalytic activity of ACE2 for the turnover of the vasoconstrictor angiotensin II may directly address COVID-19 symptoms and protect against lung and cardiovascular injury, conferring dual mechanisms of action unachievable by monoclonal antibodies. Soluble ACE2 derivatives therefore have the potential to be next generation therapeutics for addressing the immediate needs of the current pandemic and possible future outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1078
Number of pages14
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
  • Coronavirus
  • Novel coronavirus
  • avidity
  • ACE2
  • protein engineering
  • decoy receptor
  • SARS coronavirus 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry


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