We analyzed genetic variations of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), considering that it might influence patients' susceptibility to severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) or development of SARS as a functional receptor. By cloning of the full-length cDNA of the ACE2 gene in the lung, where replication occurs on SARS-CoV, it was shown that there are different splicing sites. All exons including the new alternative exon, exon-intron boundaries, and the corresponding 5′-flanking region of the gene were investigated and 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found. Out of these, 13 SNPs including one non-synonymous substitution and three 3′-UTR polymorphisms were newly identified. A case control study involving 44 SARS cases, 16 anti-SARS-CoV antibody-positive contacts, 87 antibody-negative contacts, and 50 non-contacts in Vietnam, failed to obtain any evidence that the ACE2 gene polymorphisms are involved in the disease process in the population. Nevertheless, identification of new 5′-untranslated exon and new SNPs is considered helpful in investigating regulation of ACE2 gene expression in the future.
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