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Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-448958


The spike (S) protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 is an attractive target for COVID-19 vaccine developments, which naturally exists in a trimeric form. Here, guided by structural and computational analyses, we present a mutation-integrated trimeric form of RBD (mutI tri-RBD) as a broadly protective vaccine candidate, in which three RBDs were individually grafted from three different circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains including the prototype, Beta (B.1.351) and Kappa (B.1.617). The three RBDs were then connected end-to-end and co-assembled to possibly mimic the native trimeric arrangements in the natural S protein trimer. The recombinant expression of the mutI tri-RBD, as well as the homo-tri-RBD where the three RBDs were all truncated from the prototype strain, by mammalian cell exhibited correct folding, strong bio-activities, and high stability. The immunization of both the mutI tri-RBD and homo-tri-RBD plus aluminum adjuvant induced high levels of specific IgG and neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 prototype strain in mice. Notably, regarding to the "immune-escape" Beta (B.1.351) variant, mutI tri-RBD elicited significantly higher neutralizing antibody titers than homo-tri-RBD. Furthermore, due to harboring the immune-resistant mutations as well as the evolutionarily convergent hotspots, the designed mutI tri-RBD also induced strong broadly neutralizing activities against various SARS-CoV-2 variants, especially the variants partially resistant to homo-tri-RBD. Homo-tri-RBD has been approved by the China National Medical Products Administration to enter clinical trial (No. NCT04869592), and the superior broad neutralization performances against SARS-CoV-2 support the mutI tri-RBD as a more promising vaccine candidate for further clinical developments.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-366138


The ongoing of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, resulting in economic losses and seriously threating the human health in worldwide, highlighting the urgent need of a stabilized, easily produced and effective preventive vaccine. The SARS-COV-2 spike protein receptor binding region (RBD) plays an important role in the process of viral binding receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and membrane fusion, making it an ideal target for vaccine development. In this study, we designed three different RBD-conjugated nanoparticles vaccine candidates, RBD-Ferritin (24-mer), RBD-mi3 (60-mer) and RBD-I53-50 (120-mer), with the application of covalent bond linking by SpyTag-SpyCatcher system. It was demonstrated that the neutralizing capability of sera from mice immunized with three RBD-conjugated nanoparticles adjuvanted with AddaVax or Sigma Systerm Adjuvant (SAS) after each immunization was ~8-to 120-fold greater than monomeric RBD group in SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus and authentic virus neutralization assay. Most importantly, sera from RBD-conjugated NPs groups more efficiently blocked the binding of RBD to ACE2 or neutralizing antibody in vitro, a further proof of promising immunization effect. Besides, high physical stability and flexibility in assembly consolidated the benefit for rapid scale-up production of vaccine. These results supported that our designed SARS-CoV-2 RBD-conjugated nanoparticle was competitive vaccine candidate and the carrier nanoparticles could be adopted as universal platform for future vaccine development.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-267716


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) becomes a tremendous threat to global health. Although vaccines against the virus are under development, the antigen epitopes on the virus and their immunogenicity are poorly understood. Here, we simulated the three-dimensional structures of SARS-CoV-2 proteins with high performance computer, predicted the B cell epitopes on spike (S), envelope (E), membrane (M), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins of SARS-CoV-2 using structure-based approaches, and then validated the epitope immunogenicity by immunizing mice. Almost all 33 predicted epitopes effectively induced antibody production, six of which were immunodominant epitopes in patients identified via the binding of epitopes with the sera from domestic and imported COVID-19 patients, and 23 were conserved within SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and bat coronavirus RaTG13. We also found that the immunodominant epitopes of domestic SARS-CoV-2 were different from that of the imported, which may be caused by the mutations on S (G614D) and N proteins. Importantly, we validated that eight epitopes on S protein elicited neutralizing antibodies that blocked the cell entry of both D614 and G614 pseudo-virus of SARS-CoV-2, three and nine epitopes induced D614 or G614 neutralizing antibodies, respectively. Our present study shed light on the immunodominance, neutralization, and conserved epitopes on SARS-CoV-2 which are potently used for the diagnosis, virus classification and the vaccine design tackling inefficiency, virus mutation and different species of coronaviruses.