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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.11.24.515932


Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants diminishes the efficacy of vaccines and antiviral monoclonal antibodies. Continued development of immunotherapies and vaccine immunogens resilient to viral evolution is therefore necessary. Using coldspot-guided antibody discovery, a screening approach that focuses on portions of the virus spike that are both functionally relevant and averse to change, we identified human neutralizing antibodies to highly conserved viral epitopes. Antibody fp.006 binds the fusion peptide and cross-reacts against coronaviruses of the four genera, including the nine human coronaviruses, through recognition of a conserved motif that includes the S2' site of proteolytic cleavage. Antibody hr2.016 targets the stem helix and neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 variants. Antibody sd1.040 binds to subdomain 1, synergizes with antibody rbd.042 for neutralization and, like fp.006 and hr2.016, protects mice when present as bispecific antibody. Thus, coldspot-guided antibody discovery reveals donor-derived neutralizing antibodies that are cross-reactive with Orthocoronavirinae, including SARS-CoV-2 variants.

biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.05.23.493121


Infection by SARS-CoV-2 leads to diverse symptoms, which can persist for months. While antiviral antibodies are protective, those targeting interferons and other immune factors are associated with adverse COVID-19 outcomes. Instead, we discovered that antibodies against specific chemokines are omnipresent after COVID-19, associated with favorable disease, and predictive of lack of long COVID symptoms at one year post infection. Anti-chemokine antibodies are present also in HIV-1 and autoimmune disorders, but they target different chemokines than those in COVID-19. Finally, monoclonal antibodies derived from COVID-19 convalescents that bind to the chemokine N-loop impair cell migration. Given the role of chemokines in orchestrating immune cell trafficking, naturally arising anti-chemokine antibodies associated with favorable COVID 19 may be beneficial by modulating the inflammatory response and thus bear therapeutic potential.

HIV Infections , COVID-19
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-10.1101.2021.03.23.436642


The identification of CD4+ T cell epitopes is essential for the design of effective vaccines capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies and long-term immunity. Here we demonstrate in COVID-19 patients a robust CD4+ T cell response to naturally processed SARS-CoV-2 Spike and Nucleoprotein, including effector, helper and memory T cells. By characterizing 2,943 Spike-reactive T cell clones, we found that 34% of the clones and 93% of the patients recognized a conserved immunodominant region encompassing residues S346-365 in the RBD and comprising three nested HLA-DR and HLA-DP restricted epitopes. By using pre- and post-COVID-19 samples and Spike proteins from alpha and beta coronaviruses, we provide in vivo evidence of cross-reactive T cell responses targeting multiple sites in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. The possibility of leveraging immunodominant and cross-reactive T helper epitopes is instrumental for vaccination strategies that can be rapidly adapted to counteract emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.