Covid-19 Severity Linked to SLC6A20 Gene Located on Locus 3p21.21




Wilson, Jonathan

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is an extremely infectious disease that has resulted in a respiratory pandemic leading to millions of deaths worldwide. Infected individuals can experience respiratory distress, chess pain, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). However, there is considerable variation in disease symptoms among the infected population. Symptom severity can be classified into four groups: mild, moderate, severe, and critical (Wang et al., 2020). Patients with mild to severe cases need minimal medical intervention and usually recover within a couple days. In contrast, severe and critical cases require immediate hospitalization and advanced medical intervention. In such cases, patients often experience decreased oxygen saturation and an increased respiratory rate, which can be extremely detrimental to the patient’s health (Rahman et al., 2021). Furthermore, a portion of the population who become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus do not show any symptoms of the disease. A recent study estimated between 20 to 30 percent of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic (Buitrago-Garcia et al., 2020). Previous studies have identified risk factors for increased symptom severity, including age, obesity, smoking, and immunosuppression (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). One potential genetic factor linked to COVID-19 severity is a mutation of the Solute Carrier Family 6 (SLC6A20) gene located on chromosome 3p21.21. This gene encodes for a proline transporter that interacts with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the SARS-CoV-2 cell surface receptor (Yildirim et al., 2021). A mutation of the SLC6A20 gene decreases a patient’s respiratory function and disrupts normal ACE2 production, intensifying COVID-19 symptom severity and therefore can be used to identify and treat susceptible individuals with gene mutation against COVID-19.

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