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Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-296014


ABSTRACT In response to the need for a safe, efficacious vaccine that elicits vigorous T cell as well as humoral protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection, we have developed a dual-antigen COVID-19 vaccine comprising both the viral spike (S) protein modified to increase cell-surface expression (S-Fusion) and nucleocapsid (N) protein with an Enhanced T-cell Stimulation Domain (N-ETSD) to enhance MHC class I and II presentation and T-cell responses. The antigens are delivered using a human adenovirus serotype 5 (hAd5) platform with E1, E2b, and E3 regions deleted that has been shown previously in cancer vaccine studies to be safe and effective in the presence of pre-existing hAd5 immunity. The findings reported here are focused on human T-cell responses due to the likelihood that such responses will sustain efficacy against emerging variants, a hypothesis supported by our in silico prediction of T-cell epitope HLA binding for both the first-wave SARS-CoV-2 ‘A’ strain and the B.1.351 strain K417N, E484K, and N501Y spike and T201I N variants. We demonstrate the hAd5 S-Fusion + N-ETSD vaccine antigens expressed by previously SARS-CoV-2-infected patient dendritic cells elicit Th1 dominant activation of autologous patient T cells, indicating the vaccine antigens have the potential to elicit immune responses in previously infected patients. For participants in our open-label Phase 1b study of the vaccine ( NCT04591717 ; ), the magnitude of Th-1 dominant S- and N-specific T-cell responses after a single prime subcutaneous injection were comparable to T-cell responses from previously infected patients. Furthermore, vaccinated participant T-cell responses to S were similar for A strain S and a series of spike variant peptides, including S variants in the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 strains. The findings that this dual-antigen vaccine elicits SARS-CoV-2-relevant T-cell responses and that such cell-mediated protection is likely to be sustained against emerging variants supports the testing of this vaccine as a universal booster that would enhance and broaden existing immune protection conferred by currently approved S-based vaccines.

Sci Rep ; 11(1): 12740, 2021 06 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1275953


The SARS-CoV-2 variants replacing the first wave strain pose an increased threat by their potential ability to escape pre-existing humoral protection. An angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) decoy that competes with endogenous ACE2 for binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor binding domain (S RBD) and inhibits infection may offer a therapeutic option with sustained efficacy against variants. Here, we used Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulation to predict ACE2 sequence substitutions that might increase its affinity for S RBD and screened candidate ACE2 decoys in vitro. The lead ACE2(T27Y/H34A)-IgG1FC fusion protein with enhanced S RBD affinity shows greater live SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralization capability than wild type ACE2. MD simulation was used to predict the effects of S RBD variant mutations on decoy affinity that was then confirmed by testing of an ACE2 Triple Decoy that included an additional enzyme activity-deactivating H374N substitution against mutated S RBD. The ACE2 Triple Decoy maintains high affinity for mutated S RBD, displays enhanced affinity for S RBD N501Y or L452R, and has the highest affinity for S RBD with both E484K and N501Y mutations, making it a viable therapeutic option for the prevention or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection with a high likelihood of efficacy against variants.

Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/metabolism , Drug Discovery/methods , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Signal Transduction/drug effects , Amino Acid Sequence , COVID-19/virology , Humans , Mutation , Protein Binding/drug effects , Protein Domains/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization/drug effects
Immunity ; 53(3): 672-684.e11, 2020 09 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-797268


Autoinflammatory disease can result from monogenic errors of immunity. We describe a patient with early-onset multi-organ immune dysregulation resulting from a mosaic, gain-of-function mutation (S703I) in JAK1, encoding a kinase essential for signaling downstream of >25 cytokines. By custom single-cell RNA sequencing, we examine mosaicism with single-cell resolution. We find that JAK1 transcription was predominantly restricted to a single allele across different cells, introducing the concept of a mutational "transcriptotype" that differs from the genotype. Functionally, the mutation increases JAK1 activity and transactivates partnering JAKs, independent of its catalytic domain. S703I JAK1 is not only hypermorphic for cytokine signaling but also neomorphic, as it enables signaling cascades not canonically mediated by JAK1. Given these results, the patient was treated with tofacitinib, a JAK inhibitor, leading to the rapid resolution of clinical disease. These findings offer a platform for personalized medicine with the concurrent discovery of fundamental biological principles.

Hereditary Autoinflammatory Diseases/genetics , Hereditary Autoinflammatory Diseases/pathology , Janus Kinase 1/genetics , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome/genetics , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome/pathology , Adolescent , COVID-19/mortality , Catalytic Domain/genetics , Cell Line , Cytokines/metabolism , Female , Gain of Function Mutation/genetics , Genotype , HEK293 Cells , Hereditary Autoinflammatory Diseases/drug therapy , Humans , Janus Kinase 1/antagonists & inhibitors , Mosaicism , Piperidines/therapeutic use , Precision Medicine/methods , Pyrimidines/therapeutic use , Signal Transduction/immunology , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome/drug therapy