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1.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-516888

ABSTRACT

Convergent evolution of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 lineages has led to the emergence of several new subvariants, including BA.2.75.2, BA.4.6. and BQ.1.1. The subvariants BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1 are expected to become predominant in many countries in November 2022. They carry an additional and often redundant set of mutations in the spike, likely responsible for increased transmissibility and immune evasion. Here, we established a viral amplification procedure to easily isolate Omicron strains. We examined their sensitivity to 6 therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and to 72 sera from Pfizer BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals, with or without BA.1/BA.2 or BA.5 breakthrough infection. Ronapreve (Casirivimab and Imdevimab) and Evusheld (Cilgavimab and Tixagevimab) lost any antiviral efficacy against BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1, whereas Xevudy (Sotrovimab) remained weakly active. BQ.1.1 was also resistant to Bebtelovimab. Neutralizing titers in triply vaccinated individuals were low to undetectable against BQ.1.1 and BA.2.75.2, 4 months after boosting. A BA.1/BA.2 breakthrough infection increased these titers, which remained about 18-fold lower against BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1, than against BA.1. Reciprocally, a BA.5 breakthrough infection increased more efficiently neutralization against BA.5 and BQ.1.1 than against BA.2.75.2. Thus, the evolution trajectory of novel Omicron subvariants facilitated their spread in immunized populations and raises concerns about the efficacy of most currently available mAbs.

2.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22278699

ABSTRACT

The emergence of novel Omicron lineages, such as BA.5, may impact the therapeutic efficacy of anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Here, we evaluated the neutralization and ADCC activity of 6 therapeutic mAbs against Delta, BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 isolates. The Omicron sub-variants escaped most of the antibodies but remained sensitive to Bebtelovimab and Cilgavimab. Consistent with their shared spike sequence, BA.4 and BA.5 displayed identical neutralization profiles. Sotrovimab was the most efficient at eliciting ADCC. We also analyzed 121 sera from 40 immunocompromised individuals up to 6 months after infusion of 1200 mg of Ronapreve (Imdevimab + Casirivimab), and 300 or 600 mg of Evusheld (Cilgavimab + Tixagevimab). Sera from Ronapreve-treated individuals did not neutralize Omicron subvariants. Evusheld-treated individuals neutralized BA.2 and BA.5, but titers were reduced by 41- and 130-fold, respectively, compared to Delta. A longitudinal evaluation of sera from Evusheld-treated patients revealed a slow decay of mAb levels and neutralization. The decline was more rapid against BA.5. Our data shed light on the antiviral activities of therapeutic mAbs and the duration of effectiveness of Evusheld pre-exposure prophylaxis.

3.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22277885

ABSTRACT

Since early 2022, Omicron BA.1 has been eclipsed by BA.2, which was in turn outcompeted by BA.5, that displays enhanced antibody escape properties. Here, we evaluated the duration of the neutralizing antibody (Nab) response, up to 16 months after Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccination, in individuals with or without BA.1/BA.2 breakthrough infection. We measured neutralization of the ancestral D614G lineage, Delta and Omicron BA.1, BA.2, BA.5 variants in 291 sera and 35 nasal swabs from 27 individuals. Upon vaccination, serum Nab titers were reduced by 10-, 15-and 25-fold for BA.1, BA.2 and BA.5, respectively, compared with D614G. The duration of neutralization was markedly shortened, from an estimated period of 11.5 months post-boost with D614G to 5.5 months with BA.5. After breakthrough, we observed a sharp increase of Nabs against Omicron subvariants, followed by a plateau and a slow decline after 4-5 months. In nasal swabs, infection, but not vaccination, triggered a strong IgA response and a detectable Omicron neutralizing activity. Thus, BA.5 spread is partly due to abbreviated vaccine efficacy, particularly in individuals who were not infected with previous Omicron variants.

4.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22273175

ABSTRACT

BackgroundThe protective immunity against Omicron following a BNT162b2 Pfizer booster dose among elderly is not well characterized. MethodsThirty-eight residents from three nursing homes were recruited for the study. Antibodies targeting the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 were measured with the S-Flow assay. Neutralizing activities in sera were measured as effective dilution 50% (ED50) with the S-Fuse assay using authentic isolates of Delta and Omicron. ResultsAmong the 38 elderly included in the study, with median (inter-quartile range, IQR) age of 88 (81-92) years, 30 (78.9%) had been previously infected. The ED50 of neutralization were lower against Omicron than Delta, and higher among convalescent compared to naive residents. During an Omicron epidemic affecting two of the three nursing homes in December 2021-January 2022, 75% (6/8) of naive residents got infected, compared to 25% (6/24) of convalescents (P=0.03). Antibody levels to Spike and ED50 of neutralization against Omicron after the BNT162b2 booster dose were lower in those with breakthrough infection (n=12) compared to those without (n=20): median of 1256 vs 2523 BAU/mL (P=0.02) and median ED50 of 234 vs 1298 (P=0.0004), respectively. ConclusionThis study confirmed the importance of receiving at least three antigenic exposures to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein for achieving satisfactory neutralizing antibody levels. In this population, protection against Omicron infection was increased in individuals who had been previously infected in addition to the three vaccine doses. Thus, a fourth antigenic exposure may be useful in the elderly population to prevent infection with Omicron, a variant known for its high escape immunity properties.

5.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22272066

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1 variant has been supplanted in many countries by the BA.2 sub-lineage. BA.2 differs from BA.1 by about 21 mutations in its spike. Human anti-spike monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are used for prevention or treatment of COVID-19. However, the capacity of therapeutic mAbs to neutralize BA.1 and BA.2 remains poorly characterized. Here, we first compared the sensitivity of BA.1 and BA.2 to neutralization by 9 therapeutic mAbs. In contrast to BA.1, BA.2 was sensitive to Cilgavimab, partly inhibited by Imdevimab and resistant to Adintrevimab and Sotrovimab. Two combinations of mAbs, Ronapreve (Casirivimab + Imdevimab) and Evusheld (Cilgavimab + Tixagevimab), are indicated as a pre-exposure prophylaxis in immunocompromised persons at risk of severe disease. We analyzed sera from 29 such individuals, up to one month after administration of Ronapreve and/or Evusheld. After treatment, all individuals displayed elevated antibody levels in their sera and neutralized Delta with high titers. Ronapreve recipients did not neutralize BA.1 and weakly impaired BA.2. With Evusheld, neutralization of BA.1 and BA.2 was detected in 19 and 29 out of 29 patients, respectively. As compared to Delta, titers were more severely decreased against BA.1 (344-fold) than BA.2 (9-fold). We further report 4 breakthrough Omicron infections among the 29 participants. Therefore, BA.1 and BA.2 exhibit noticeable differences in their sensitivity to therapeutic mAbs. Anti-Omicron activity of Ronapreve, and to a lesser extent that of Evusheld, is reduced in patients sera, a phenomenon associated with decreased clinical efficacy.

6.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-475248

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 lineages are continuously evolving. As of December 2021, the AY.4.2 Delta sub-lineage represented 20 % of sequenced strains in UK and has been detected in dozens of countries. It has since then been supplanted by the Omicron variant. AY.4.2 displays three additional mutations (T95I, Y145H and A222V) in the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the spike when compared to the original Delta variant (B.1.617.2) and remains poorly characterized. Here, we analyzed the fusogenicity of the AY.4.2 spike and the sensitivity of an authentic AY.4.2 isolate to neutralizing antibodies. The AY.4.2 spike exhibited similar fusogenicity and binding to ACE2 than Delta. The sensitivity of infectious AY.4.2 to a panel of monoclonal neutralizing antibodies was similar to Delta, except for the anti-RBD Imdevimab, which showed incomplete neutralization. Sensitivity of AY.4.2 to sera from individuals having received two or three doses of Pfizer or two doses of AstraZeneca vaccines was reduced by 1.7 to 2.1 fold, when compared to Delta. Our results suggest that mutations in the NTD remotely impair the efficacy of anti-RBD antibodies. The temporary spread of AY.4.2 was not associated with major changes in spike function but rather to a partially reduced neutralization sensitivity.

7.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-472630

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was first identified in November 2021 in Botswana and South Africa1,2. It has in the meantime spread to many countries and is expected to rapidly become dominant worldwide. The lineage is characterized by the presence of about 32 mutations in the Spike, located mostly in the N-terminal domain (NTD) and the receptor binding domain (RBD), which may enhance viral fitness and allow antibody evasion. Here, we isolated an infectious Omicron virus in Belgium, from a traveller returning from Egypt. We examined its sensitivity to 9 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) clinically approved or in development3, and to antibodies present in 90 sera from COVID-19 vaccine recipients or convalescent individuals. Omicron was totally or partially resistant to neutralization by all mAbs tested. Sera from Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine recipients, sampled 5 months after complete vaccination, barely inhibited Omicron. Sera from COVID-19 convalescent patients collected 6 or 12 months post symptoms displayed low or no neutralizing activity against Omicron. Administration of a booster Pfizer dose as well as vaccination of previously infected individuals generated an anti-Omicron neutralizing response, with titers 5 to 31 fold lower against Omicron than against Delta. Thus, Omicron escapes most therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and to a large extent vaccine-elicited antibodies.

8.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-448011

ABSTRACT

Severe COVID-19 is characterized by lung abnormalities, including the presence of syncytial pneumocytes. Syncytia form when SARS-CoV-2 spike protein expressed on the surface of infected cells interacts with the ACE2 receptor on neighbouring cells. The syncytia forming potential of spike variant proteins remain poorly characterized. Here, we first assessed Alpha and Beta spread and fusion in cell cultures. Alpha and Beta replicated similarly to D614G reference strain in Vero, Caco-2, Calu-3 and primary airway cells. However, Alpha and Beta formed larger and more numerous syncytia. Alpha, Beta and D614G fusion was similarly inhibited by interferon induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs). Individual mutations present in Alpha and Beta spikes differentially modified fusogenicity, binding to ACE2 and recognition by monoclonal antibodies. We further show that Delta spike also triggers faster fusion relative to D614G. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 emerging variants display enhanced syncytia formation. SynopsisThe Spike protein of the novel SARS-CoV-2 variants are comparative more fusogenic than the earlier strains. The mutations in the variant spike protein differential modulate syncytia formation, ACE2 binding, and antibody escape. O_LIThe spike protein of Alpha, Beta and Delta, in the absence of other viral proteins, induce more syncytia than D614G C_LIO_LIThe ACE2 affinity of the variant spike proteins correlates to their fusogenicity C_LIO_LIVariant associated mutations P681H, D1118H, and D215G augment cell-cell fusion, while antibody escape mutation E484K, K417N and {Delta}242-244 hamper it. C_LIO_LIVariant spike-mediated syncytia formation is effectively restricted by IFITMs C_LI

9.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-445838

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 lineage emerged in October 2020 in India1-6. It has since then become dominant in some indian regions and further spread to many countries. The lineage includes three main subtypes (B1.617.1, B.1617.2 and B.1.617.3), which harbour diverse Spike mutations in the N-terminal domain (NTD) and the receptor binding domain (RBD) which may increase their immune evasion potential. B.1.617.2 is believed to spread faster than the other versions. Here, we isolated infectious B.1.617.2 from a traveller returning from India. We examined its sensitivity to monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and to antibodies present in sera from COVID-19 convalescent individuals or vaccine recipients, in comparison to other viral lineages. B.1.617.2 was resistant to neutralization by some anti-NTD and anti-RBD mAbs, including Bamlanivimab, which were impaired in binding to the B.1.617.2 Spike. Sera from convalescent patients collected up to 12 months post symptoms and from Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine recipients were 3 to 6 fold less potent against B.1.617.2, relative to B.1.1.7. Sera from individuals having received one dose of AstraZeneca Vaxzevria barely inhibited B.1.617.2. Thus, B.1.617.2 spread is associated with an escape to antibodies targeting non-RBD and RBD Spike epitopes.

10.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21257393

ABSTRACT

The mechanisms that allowed for the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant to rapidly outcompete pre-existing variants in many countries remain poorly characterized. Here, we analyzed viral release, anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and cytokine production in a retrospective series of 427 RT-qPCR+ nasopharyngeal swabs collected in COVID-19 patients harbouring either non-B.1.1.7 or B.1.17 variants. We utilized a novel rapid assay, based on S-Fuse-T reporter cells, to quantify infectious SARS-CoV-2. With both non-B.1.1.7 and B.1.1.7 variants, viral titers were highly variable, ranging from 0 to >106 infectious units, and correlated with viral RNA levels. Lateral flow antigenic rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) were positive in 96% of the samples harbouring infectious virus. About 67 % of individuals carried detectable infectious virus within the first two days after onset of symptoms. This proportion decreased overtime, and viable virus was detected up to 14 days. Samples containing anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG or IgA did not generally harbour infectious virus. The proportion of individuals displaying viable virus or being RDT-positive was not higher with B.1.1.7 than with non-B.1.1.7 variants. Ct values were slightly but not significantly lower with B.1.1.7. The variant was characterized by a fast decrease of infectivity overtime and a marked release of 17 cytokines (including IFN-{beta}, IP-10, IL-10 and TRAIL). Our results highlight differences between non-B.1.1.7 and B.1.1.7 variants. B.1.1.7 is associated with modified viral decays and cytokine profiles at the nasopharyngeal mucosae during symptomatic infection.

11.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-442916

ABSTRACT

Interferon restricts SARS-CoV-2 replication in cell culture, but only a handful of Interferon Stimulated Genes with antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 have been identified. Here, we describe a functional CRISPR/Cas9 screen aiming at identifying SARS-CoV-2 restriction factors. We identified DAXX, a scaffold protein residing in PML nuclear bodies known to limit the replication of DNA viruses and retroviruses, as a potent inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV replication in human cells. Basal expression of DAXX was sufficient to limit the replication of SARS-CoV-2, and DAXX over-expression further restricted infection. In contrast with most of its previously described antiviral activities, DAXX-mediated restriction of SARS-CoV-2 was independent of the SUMOylation pathway. SARS-CoV-2 infection triggered the re-localization of DAXX to cytoplasmic sites and promoted its degradation. Mechanistically, this process was mediated by the viral papain-like protease (PLpro) and the proteasome. Together, these results demonstrate that DAXX restricts SARS-CoV-2, which in turn has evolved a mechanism to counteract its action.

12.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-430472

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants emerged respectively in United Kingdom and South Africa and spread in many countries. Here, we isolated infectious B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 strains and examined their sensitivity to anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies present in sera and nasal swabs, in comparison with a D614G reference virus. We established a novel rapid neutralization assay, based on reporter cells that become GFP+ after overnight infection. B.1.1.7 was neutralized by 79/83 sera from convalescent patients collected up to 9 months post symptoms, almost similar to D614G. There was a mean 6-fold reduction in titers and even loss of activity against B.1.351 in 40% of convalescent sera after 9 months. Early sera from 19 vaccinated individuals were almost as potent against B.1.1.7 but less efficacious against B.1.351, when compared to D614G. Nasal swabs from vaccine recipients were not neutralizing, except in individuals who were diagnosed COVID-19+ before vaccination. Thus, faster-spreading variants acquired a partial resistance to humoral immunity generated by natural infection or vaccination, mostly visible in individuals with low antibody levels.

13.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-202028

ABSTRACT

Severe cases of COVID-19 are associated with extensive lung damage and the presence of infected multinucleated syncytial pneumocytes. The viral and cellular mechanisms regulating the formation of these syncytia are not well understood. Here, we show that SARS-CoV-2 infected cells express the viral Spike protein (S) at their surface and fuse with ACE2-positive neighbouring cells. Expression of S without any other viral proteins triggers syncytia formation. Type-I interferon (IFN)-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs), a family of restriction factors that block the entry of many viruses, inhibit S-mediated fusion, with IFITM1 being more active than IFITM2 and IFITM3. On the contrary, the TMPRSS2 serine protease, which is known to enhance infectivity of cell-free virions, processes both S and ACE2 and increases syncytia formation by accelerating the fusion process. TMPRSS2 thwarts the antiviral effect of IFITMs. Our results show that the pathological effects of SARS-CoV-2 are modulated by cellular proteins that either inhibit or facilitate syncytia formation. One Sentence SummarySyncytia produced by SARS-CoV-2 infected cells and regulation of their formation by IFITMs and TMPRSS2.

14.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20068858

ABSTRACT

It is of paramount importance to evaluate the prevalence of both asymptomatic and symptomatic cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection and their antibody response profile. Here, we performed a pilot study to assess the levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in samples taken from 491 pre-epidemic individuals, 51 patients from Hopital Bichat (Paris), 209 pauci-symptomatic individuals in the French Oise region and 200 contemporary Oise blood donors. Two in-house ELISA assays, that recognize the full-length nucleoprotein (N) or trimeric Spike (S) ectodomain were implemented. We also developed two novel assays: the S-Flow assay, which is based on the recognition of S at the cell surface by flow-cytometry, and the LIPS assay that recognizes diverse antigens (including S1 or N C-terminal domain) by immunoprecipitation. Overall, the results obtained with the four assays were similar, with differences in sensitivity that can be attributed to the technique and the antigen in use. High antibody titers were associated with neutralisation activity, assessed using infectious SARS-CoV-2 or lentiviral-S pseudotypes. In hospitalized patients, seroconversion and neutralisation occurred on 5-14 days post symptom onset, confirming previous studies. Seropositivity was detected in 29% of pauci-symptomatic individuals within 15 days post-symptoms and 3 % of blood of healthy donors collected in the area of a cluster of COVID cases. Altogether, our assays allow for a broad evaluation of SARS-CoV2 seroprevalence and antibody profiling in different population subsets.

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