A variant in TMPRSS2 is associated with decreased disease severity in COVID-19

Vishnubhotla Ravikanth, Mitnala Sasikala, Vankadari Naveen, Sabbu Sai Latha, Kishore Venkata Laxmi Parsa, Ketavarapu Vijayasarathy, Ramars Amanchy, Steffie Avanthi, Bale Govardhan, Kalapala Rakesh, Daram Sarala Kumari, Bojja Srikaran, Guduru Venkat Rao, D. Nageshwar Reddy

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Background: Mortality due to COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection varies among populations. Functional relevance of genetic variations in Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and Transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), two crucial host factors for viral entry, might explain some of this variation. Methods: In this comparative study in Indian subjects, we recruited 510 COVID-19 patients and retrieved DNA from 520 controls from a repository. Associations between variants in ACE2 and TMPRSS2 with disease severity were identified by whole exome sequencing (WES, n = 20) and targeted genotyping (n = 1010). Molecular dynamic simulations (MDS) were performed to explore functional relevance of the variants. Cleavage of spike glycoprotein by wild and variant TMPRSS2 was determined in HEK293T cells. Potential effects of confounders on the association between genotype and disease severity were tested (Mantel-Haenszel test). Results: WES identified deleterious variant in TMPRSS2 (rs12329760, G > A, p. V160M). The minor allele frequency (MAF) was 0·27 in controls, 0·31 in asymptomatic, 0·21 in mild-to-moderately affected and 0·19 in severely affected COVID-19 patients. Risk of severity increased with decreasing MAF: Asymptomatic: Odds ratio-0·69 (95% CI–0·52–0·93; p = 0·01); mild-to-moderate: Odds ratio-1·89 (95% CI–1·22–2.92;p = 0·004) and severe: Odds ratio-1·79 (95% CI–1·11–2.88;p = 0·01). No confounding effect of diabetes and hypertension were observed on the risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease with respect to genotype. MDS revealed decreased stability of TMPRSS2 with 160 M variant. Spike glycoprotein cleavage by TMPRSS2 reduced ~2·4-fold in cells expressing 160 M variant. Conclusion: We demonstrate association of TMPRSS2 variant rs12329760 with decreased disease severity in COVID-19 patients from India.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100930
Number of pages8
JournalMeta Gene
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • ACE2
  • COVID-19
  • Disease severity
  • Genotyping
  • SARS-CoV-2

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