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Viruses ; 14(2)2022 02 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1674825


SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cell immunity is expected to counteract viral variants in both efficient and durable ways. We recently described a way to induce a potent SARS-CoV-2 CD8+ T immune response through the generation of engineered extracellular vesicles (EVs) emerging from muscle cells. This method relies on intramuscular injection of DNA vectors expressing different SARS-CoV-2 antigens fused at their N-terminus with the Nefmut protein, i.e., a very efficient EV-anchoring protein. However, quality, tissue distribution, and efficacy of these SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cells remained uninvestigated. To fill the gaps, antigen-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes induced by the immunization through the Nefmut-based method were characterized in terms of their polyfunctionality and localization at lung airways, i.e., the primary targets of SARS-CoV-2 infection. We found that injection of vectors expressing Nefmut/S1 and Nefmut/N generated polyfunctional CD8+ T lymphocytes in both spleens and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids (BALFs). When immunized mice were infected with 4.4 lethal doses of 50% of SARS-CoV-2, all S1-immunized mice succumbed, whereas those developing the highest percentages of N-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes resisted the lethal challenge. We also provide evidence that the N-specific immunization coupled with the development of antigen-specific CD8+ T-resident memory cells in lungs, supporting the idea that the Nefmut-based immunization can confer a long-lasting, lung-specific immune memory. In view of the limitations of current anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in terms of antibody waning and efficiency against variants, our CD8+ T cell-based platform could be considered for a new combination prophylactic strategy.

Antigens, Viral/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Extracellular Vesicles/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , Antigens, Viral/administration & dosage , Antigens, Viral/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Female , Genetic Vectors/administration & dosage , Genetic Vectors/immunology , Humans , Lung/immunology , Lung/virology , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , Vaccination
Front Immunol ; 12: 750386, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1515534


Antibodies targeting Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 have been suggested to account for the majority of neutralizing activity in COVID-19 convalescent sera and several neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) have been isolated, characterized and proposed as emergency therapeutics in the form of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). However, SARS-CoV-2 variants are rapidly spreading worldwide from the sites of initial identification. The variants of concern (VOC) B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma) and B.1.167.2 (Delta) showed mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein potentially able to cause escape from nAb responses with a consequent reduction of efficacy of vaccines and mAbs-based therapy. We produced the recombinant RBD (rRBD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein from the Wuhan-Hu 1 reference sequence in a mammalian system, for mice immunization to isolate new mAbs with neutralizing activity. Here we describe four mAbs that were able to bind the rRBD in Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay and the transmembrane full-length spike protein expressed in HEK293T cells by flow cytometry assay. Moreover, the mAbs recognized the RBD in supernatants of SARS-CoV-2 infected VERO E6 cells by Western Blot under non-reducing condition or in supernatants of cells infected with lentivirus pseudotyped for spike protein, by immunoprecipitation assay. Three out of four mAbs lost their binding efficiency to completely N-deglycosylated rRBD and none was able to bind the same recombinant protein expressed in Escherichia coli, suggesting that the epitopes recognized by three mAbs are generated by the conformational structure of the glycosylated native protein. Of particular relevance, three mAbs were able to inhibit Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 infection of VERO E6 cells in a plaque-reduction neutralization test and the Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 as well as the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta VOC in a pseudoviruses-based neutralization test. These mAbs represent important additional tools for diagnosis and therapy of COVID-19 and may contribute to the understanding of the functional structure of SARS-CoV-2 RBD.

Antibodies, Monoclonal/pharmacology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/pharmacology , Epitopes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Binding Sites, Antibody/immunology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Female , Glycosylation , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vero Cells