Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), representing a global health threat. The viral spike protein, anchored on the surface of the viral envelope as homotrimers, binds to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and mediates the cellular entry of this virus. The receptor binding domain (RBD) of spike directly binds to ACE2, which induces a conformational change that facilitates virus fusion. This fusion event releases the SARS-CoV-2 genome into the cytoplasm. Spike protein, specifically the RBD, is the primary antigenic target for COVID vaccines in the market and interfering with the interface between RBD and ACE2 is the mechanism of action for the majority of existing therapeutic antibodies, indicating the importance of RBD and its binding to the cellular receptor for controlling SARS-CoV-2. Thus far, several cellular factors have been identified to facilitate cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2 (neuropilin-1, heparan sulfate, and C-type lectins). However, it is unclear whether there are any cellular proteins that inhibit viral entry. Our new preliminary data reveal that cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2 is inhibited by a novel inhibitory cellular protein, Leucin-rich repeat containing 15 (LRRC15). We performed binding assays using recombinant proteins in cells and in cell-free models that show LRRC15 directly interacts with the RBD of spike with a moderate affinity (KD = 43~148 nM, depending on domain and variant). Although ACE2 also interacts with the spike via the RBD, the interaction of LRRC15-RBD does not compete or stabilize ACE2-RBD interactions, suggesting non- overlapping binding sites. Further analysis of human lung single cell RNA sequencing dataset reveals that expression of LRRC15 is primarily detected in fibroblasts and particularly enriched in pathological fibroblasts in COVID-19 patients. ACE2 and LRRC15 are not co-expressed in the same cell types in the lung. Strikingly, LRRC15 inhibits spike-mediated viral entry not only in the same cells, but also in neighboring cells in trans. Expression of LRRC15 in ACE2+ cells blocked spike-mediated viral entry in ACE2+LRRC15- cells, providing a unique concept of viral entry inhibition by an inhibitory factor. This result suggests a protective role of LRRC15 in a physiological context. Our central hypothesis is that human LRRC15 acts as an inhibitory entry factor for SARS-CoV-2, acting in trans as a decoy receptor expressed in non-susceptible pathological fibroblasts in the lung. This proposal will explore by which LRRC15 inhibits entry of SARS-CoV-2 in trans through two specific aims. Aim 1. Determine molecular mechanisms of entry inhibition by LRRC15. Aim 2. Evaluate pathological fibroblasts providing the inhibitory function ex vivo. This study provides an insight into therapeutic development and a better understanding of COVID-19.