Abstract COVID-19 has become a global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection. Dermatologic manifestations are not uncommon in COVID-19 patients and the virus has been reported within some. However, the role of the virus and the host response in these cutaneous manifestations remain poorly studied. The pangolin coronavirus (pCoV) is a model for studying SARS-CoV-2 because of its genetic relatedness and similarity of disease characteristics. Here we report the presence of pCoV in pangolin skin manifestations and present an in-depth analysis of the transcriptional response to the infection. COVID-19-related pathways were up-regulated, but interferon epsilon (IFNE)-related pathways were not differentially regulated (consistent with the pseudogenisation of IFNE and IFIH1 in the pangolin). Endogenous retroviral genes tended to be down-regulated, indicating their importance in CoV infection. We believe our study provides further support for a potentially overlooked percutaneous transmission route of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
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