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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.03.30.486377


Coronaviruses use diverse Spike (S) glycoproteins to attach to host receptors and fuse with target cells. Using a broad screening approach, we isolated from SARS-CoV-2 immune donors seven monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that bind to all human alpha and beta coronavirus S proteins. These mAbs recognize the fusion peptide and acquire high affinity and breadth through somatic mutations. Despite targeting a conserved motif, only some mAbs show broad neutralizing activity in vitro against alpha and beta coronaviruses, including Omicron BA.1 variant and bat WIV-1, and reduce viral titers and pathology in vivo. Structural and functional analyses show that the fusion peptide-specific mAbs bind with different modalities to a cryptic epitope which is concealed by prefusion-stabilizing 2P mutations and becomes exposed upon binding of ACE2 or ACE2-mimicking mAbs. This study identifies a new class of pan-coronavirus neutralizing mAbs and reveals a receptor-induced conformational change in the S protein that exposes the fusion peptide region.

Coronavirus Infections
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.19.473391


Numerous safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have been developed that utilize various delivery technologies and engineering strategies. The influence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein conformation on antibody responses induced by vaccination or infection in humans remains unknown. To address this question, we compared plasma antibodies elicited by six globally-distributed vaccines or infection and observed markedly higher binding titers for vaccines encoding a prefusion-stabilized S relative to other groups. Prefusion S binding titers positively correlated with plasma neutralizing activity, indicating that physical stabilization of the prefusion conformation enhances protection against SARS-CoV-2. We show that almost all plasma neutralizing activity is directed to prefusion S, in particular the S1 subunit, and that variant cross-neutralization is mediated solely by RBD-specific antibodies. Our data provide a quantitative framework for guiding future S engineering efforts to develop vaccines with higher resilience to the emergence of variants and longer durability than current technologies.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , COVID-19
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.08.471707


The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant is currently responsible for most infections worldwide, including among vaccinated individuals. Although these latter infections lead to milder COVID-19 disease relative to unvaccinated subjects, the specificity and durability of antibody responses elicited by Delta breakthrough cases remain unknown. Here, we demonstrate that breakthrough infections induce serum binding and neutralizing antibody responses that are markedly more potent, durable and resilient to spike mutations observed in variants than those observed in subjects who were infected only or received only two doses of vaccine. We show that Delta breakthrough cases, subjects who were vaccinated after infection and individuals vaccinated three times (without infection) have serum neutralizing activity of comparable magnitude and breadth, indicating that multiple types of exposure or increased number of exposures to SARS-CoV-2 antigen(s) enhance antibody responses. Neutralization of SARS-CoV, however, was moderate, underscoring the importance of developing vaccines eliciting broad sarbecovirus immunity for pandemic preparedness.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , Sertoli Cell-Only Syndrome , COVID-19
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.10.25.465646


The recent isolation of CCoV-HuPn-2018 from a child respiratory swab indicates that more coronaviruses are spilling over to humans than previously appreciated. Here, we determined cryo-electron microscopy structures of the CCoV-HuPn-2018 spike glycoprotein trimer in two distinct conformational states and identified that it binds canine, feline and porcine aminopeptidase N (APN encoded by ANPEP) orthologs which serve as entry receptors. Introduction of an oligosaccharide at position N739 of human APN renders cells susceptible to CCoV-HuPn-2018 spike-mediated entry, suggesting that single nucleotide polymorphisms could account for the detection of this virus in some individuals. Human polyclonal plasma antibodies elicited by HCoV-229E infection and a porcine coronavirus monoclonal antibody inhibit CCoV-HuPn-2018 S-mediated entry, indicating elicitation of cross-neutralizing activity among -coronaviruses. These data provide a blueprint of the CCoV-HuPn-2018 infection machinery, unveil the viral entry receptor and pave the way for vaccine and therapeutic development targeting this zoonotic pathogen.

Coronaviridae Infections
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.10.13.464254


Understanding broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus antibody responses is key to developing countermeasures effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants and future spillovers of other sarbecoviruses. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of a human monoclonal antibody, designated S2K146, broadly neutralizing viruses belonging to all three sarbecovirus clades known to utilize ACE2 as entry receptor and protecting therapeutically against SARS-CoV-2 beta challenge in hamsters. Structural and functional studies show that most of the S2K146 epitope residues are shared with the ACE2 binding site and that the antibody inhibits receptor attachment competitively. Viral passaging experiments underscore an unusually high barrier for emergence of escape mutants making it an ideal candidate for clinical development. These findings unveil a key site of vulnerability for the development of a next generation of vaccines eliciting broad sarbecovirus immunity.