21 December 2021 – Researcher Fabrizio d’Adda di Fagagna and collaborators, including co-first authors Sara Sepe and Francesca Rossiello, have recently described in EMBO Reports a potential explanation for the increased susceptibility of the elderly to COVID-19. They reveal a link between damaged, shortened, or unprotected telomeres and the expression of the host molecule highjacked by SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells, angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). d’Adda di Fagagna spoke with us about how the project emerged, its links to a DNA repair pathway discovered in his lab, and the potential therapeutic implications. Also in this episode, biologist João Passos discussed the significance of the study and EMBO Reports scientific editor Esther Schnapp explained why it was a good fit for the journal.
A COVID clue at chromosome ends
“This immediately told us that maybe telomeres were playing an important role in regulating ACE2 expression.”
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