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1.
Front Immunol ; 13: 926262, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1911052

ABSTRACT

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple waves of SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged. Of particular concern is the omicron variant, which harbors 28 mutations in the spike glycoprotein receptor binding and N-terminal domains relative to the ancestral strain. The high mutability of SARS-CoV-2 therefore poses significant hurdles for development of universal assays that rely on spike-specific immune detection. To address this, more conserved viral antigens need to be targeted. In this work, we comprehensively demonstrate the use of nucleocapsid (N)-specific detection across several assays using previously described nanobodies C2 and E2. We show that these nanobodies are highly sensitive and can detect divergent SARS-CoV-2 ancestral, delta and omicron variants across several assays. By comparison, spike-specific antibodies S309 and CR3022 only disparately detect SARS-CoV-2 variant targets. As such, we conclude that N-specific detection could provide a standardized universal target for detection of current and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Single-Domain Antibodies , Antibodies, Monoclonal , Antibodies, Neutralizing , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Nucleocapsid/genetics , Nucleocapsid Proteins , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
2.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(4)2022 Apr 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1786092

ABSTRACT

The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to disrupt essential health services in 90 percent of countries today. The spike (S) protein found on the surface of the causative agent, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been the prime target for current vaccine research since antibodies directed against the S protein were found to neutralize the virus. However, as new variants emerge, mutations within the spike protein have given rise to potential immune evasion of the response generated by the current generation of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. In this study, a modified, HexaPro S protein subunit vaccine, delivered using a needle-free high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP), was investigated for its immunogenicity and virus-neutralizing abilities. Mice given two doses of the vaccine candidate generated potent antibody responses capable of neutralizing the parental SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the variants of concern, Alpha and Delta. These results demonstrate that this alternative vaccination strategy has the potential to mitigate the effect of emerging viral variants.

3.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-324202

ABSTRACT

Proteases catalyse irreversible posttranslational modifications that often alter a biological function of the substrate. The protease dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) is a pharmacological target in type 2 diabetes therapy primarily because it inactivates glucagon-like protein-1. DPP4 also has roles in steatosis, insulin resistance, cancers and inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. In addition, DPP4 binds to the spike protein of MERS virus, causing it to be the human cell surface receptor for that virus. DPP4 has been identified as a potential binding target of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, so this question requires experimental investigation. Understanding protein structure and function requires reliable protocols for production and purification. We developed such strategies for baculovirus generated soluble recombinant human DPP4 (residues 29-766) produced in insect cells. Purification used differential ammonium sulphate precipitation, hydrophobic interaction chromatography, dye affinity chromatography in series with immobilised metal affinity chromatography, and ion exchange chromatography. The binding affinities of DPP4 to the SARS-CoV-2 full-length spike protein and its receptor binding domain (RBD) were measured using surface plasmon resonance and ELISA. This optimised DPP4 purification procedure yielded 1 to 1.8 mg of pure fully active soluble DPP4 protein per litre of insect cell culture with specific activity >30 U/mg, indicative of high purity. No specific binding between DPP4 and CoV-2 spike protein was detected by surface plasmon resonance or ELISA. In summary, a procedure for high purity high yield soluble human DPP4 was achieved and used to show that, unlike MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 does not bind human DPP4.

4.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-323849

ABSTRACT

Efforts to develop and deploy effective vaccines against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continue at pace. Here we describe rational antigen design through to manufacturability and vaccine efficacy, of a prefusion-stabilised Spike (S) protein, Sclamp. This strategy uses an orthogonal stabilisation approach compared to canonical vaccines, in combination with the licensed adjuvant MF59 (Seqirus). In mice, the Sclamp vaccine elicits high levels of neutralising antibodies, as well as broadly reactive and polyfunctional S-specific CD4+ and cytotoxic CD8+ T cells in vivo. In the Syrian hamster challenge model (n = 70), vaccination results in reduced viral load within the lung, protection from pulmonary disease, and decreased viral shedding in daily throat swabs which correlated strongly with the neutralising antibody level. The Sclamp vaccine candidate is currently completing Phase 1 clinical evaluation, in parallel with large-scale commercial manufacture for pivotal efficacy trials and potential widespread distribution.Funding: This work was funded by CEPI.Conflict of Interest: K.J.C., D.W. and P.R.Y. are inventors of the “Molecular Clamp” patent, US 2020/0040042.

5.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-323848

ABSTRACT

Efforts to develop and deploy effective vaccines against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continue at pace with more than 30 candidate vaccines now in clinical evaluation. Here we describe the preclinical development of an adjuvanted, prefusion-stabilised Spike (S) protein “Sclamp” subunit vaccine, from rational antigen design through to assessing manufacturability and vaccine efficacy. In mice, the vaccine candidate elicits high levels of neutralising antibodies to epitopes both within and outside the receptor binding domain (RBD) of S, as well as broadly reactive and polyfunctional S-specific CD4+ and cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. We also show protection in Syrian hamsters, which has emerged as a robust animal model for pulmonary SARS-CoV-2 infection. No evidence of vaccine enhanced disease was observed in animal challenge studies and pre-clinical safety was further demonstrated in a GLP toxicology study in rats. The Sclamp vaccine candidate is currently progressing rapidly through clinical evaluation in parallel with large-scale manufacture for pivotal efficacy trials and potential widespread distribution.

6.
Sci Adv ; 7(44): eabj8065, 2021 Oct 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1494911

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected more than 160 million people and resulted in more than 3.3 million deaths, and despite the availability of multiple vaccines, the world still faces many challenges with their rollout. Here, we use the high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 spike subunit vaccine directly to the skin. We show that the vaccine is thermostable on the patches, with patch delivery enhancing both cellular and antibody immune responses. Elicited antibodies potently neutralize clinically relevant isolates including the Alpha and Beta variants. Last, a single dose of HD-MAP­delivered spike provided complete protection from a lethal virus challenge in an ACE2-transgenic mouse model. Collectively, these data show that HD-MAP delivery of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was superior to traditional needle-and-syringe vaccination and may be a significant addition to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.

7.
Viruses ; 13(10)2021 09 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1481007

ABSTRACT

Nipah virus (NiV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) possess two surface glycoproteins involved in cellular attachment and membrane fusion, both of which are potential targets for vaccines. The majority of vaccine development is focused on the attachment (G) protein of NiV, which is the immunodominant target. In contrast, the fusion (F) protein of RSV is the main target in vaccine development. Despite this, neutralising epitopes have been described in NiV F and RSV G, making them alternate targets for vaccine design. Through rational design, we have developed a vaccine strategy applicable to phylogenetically divergent NiV and RSV that comprises both the F and G proteins (FxG). In a mouse immunization model, we found that NiV FxG elicited an improved immune response capable of neutralising pseudotyped NiV and a NiV mutant that is able to escape neutralisation by two known F-specific antibodies. RSV FxG elicited an immune response against both F and G and was able to neutralise RSV; however, this was inferior to the immune response of F alone. Despite this, RSV FxG elicited a response against a known protective epitope within G that is conserved across RSV A and B subgroups, which may provide additional protection in vivo. We conclude that inclusion of F and G antigens within a single design provides a streamlined subunit vaccine strategy against both emerging and established pathogens, with the potential for broader protection against NiV.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , Henipavirus Infections/prevention & control , Nipah Virus/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/prevention & control , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/immunology , Viral Envelope Proteins/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Female , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines/administration & dosage , Vaccines, Subunit/administration & dosage , Vaccines, Subunit/immunology , Viral Envelope Proteins/administration & dosage , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics , Viral Fusion Proteins/immunology
8.
Clin Transl Immunology ; 10(4): e1269, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1162553

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Efforts to develop and deploy effective vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continue at pace. Here, we describe rational antigen design through to manufacturability and vaccine efficacy of a prefusion-stabilised spike (S) protein, Sclamp, in combination with the licensed adjuvant MF59 'MF59C.1' (Seqirus, Parkville, Australia). METHODS: A panel recombinant Sclamp proteins were produced in Chinese hamster ovary and screened in vitro to select a lead vaccine candidate. The structure of this antigen was determined by cryo-electron microscopy and assessed in mouse immunogenicity studies, hamster challenge studies and safety and toxicology studies in rat. RESULTS: In mice, the Sclamp vaccine elicits high levels of neutralising antibodies, as well as broadly reactive and polyfunctional S-specific CD4+ and cytotoxic CD8+ T cells in vivo. In the Syrian hamster challenge model (n = 70), vaccination results in reduced viral load within the lung, protection from pulmonary disease and decreased viral shedding in daily throat swabs which correlated strongly with the neutralising antibody level. CONCLUSION: The SARS-CoV-2 Sclamp vaccine candidate is compatible with large-scale commercial manufacture, stable at 2-8°C. When formulated with MF59 adjuvant, it elicits neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses and provides protection in animal challenge models.

9.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(2)2021 Jan 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1045356

ABSTRACT

Subunit vaccines exhibit favorable safety and immunogenicity profiles and can be designed to mimic native antigen structures. However, pairing with an appropriate adjuvant is imperative in order to elicit effective humoral and cellular immune responses. In this study, we aimed to determine an optimal adjuvant pairing with the prefusion form of influenza haemagglutinin (HA) or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) fusion (F) subunit vaccines in BALB/c mice in order to inform future subunit vaccine adjuvant selection. We tested a panel of adjuvants, including aluminum hydroxide (alhydrogel), QS21, Addavax, Addavax with QS21 (AdQS21), and Army Liposome Formulation 55 with monophosphoryl lipid A and QS21 (ALF55). We found that all adjuvants elicited robust humoral responses in comparison to placebo, with the induction of potent neutralizing antibodies observed in all adjuvanted groups against influenza and in AdQS21, alhydrogel, and ALF55 against RSV. Upon HA vaccination, we observed that none of the adjuvants were able to significantly increase the frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ IFN-γ+ cells when compared to unadjuvanted antigen. The varying responses to antigens with each adjuvant highlights that those adjuvants most suited for pairing purposes can vary depending on the antigen used and/or the desired immune response. We therefore suggest that an adjuvant trial for different subunit vaccines in development would likely be necessary in preclinical studies.

10.
Front Immunol ; 11: 592370, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-937449

ABSTRACT

Prior to 2020, the threat of a novel viral pandemic was omnipresent but largely ignored. Just 12 months prior to the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic our team received funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to establish and validate a rapid response pipeline for subunit vaccine development based on our proprietary Molecular Clamp platform. Throughout the course of 2019 we conducted two mock tests of our system for rapid antigen production against two potential, emerging viral pathogens, Achimota paramyxovirus and Wenzhou mammarenavirus. For each virus we expressed a small panel of recombinant variants of the membrane fusion protein and screened for expression level, product homogeneity, and the presence of the expected trimeric pre-fusion conformation. Lessons learned from this exercise paved the way for our response to COVID-19, for which our candidate antigen is currently in phase I clinical trial.


Subject(s)
Drug Design , Vaccines, Subunit , Animals , Arenaviridae , COVID-19 Vaccines , Civil Defense , Clinical Trials as Topic , Humans , Molecular Structure , Paramyxovirinae/immunology , Time Factors , Vaccines, Subunit/chemistry , Viral Vaccines
11.
Molecules ; 25(22)2020 Nov 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-934509

ABSTRACT

Proteases catalyse irreversible posttranslational modifications that often alter a biological function of the substrate. The protease dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) is a pharmacological target in type 2 diabetes therapy primarily because it inactivates glucagon-like protein-1. DPP4 also has roles in steatosis, insulin resistance, cancers and inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. In addition, DPP4 binds to the spike protein of the MERS virus, causing it to be the human cell surface receptor for that virus. DPP4 has been identified as a potential binding target of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, so this question requires experimental investigation. Understanding protein structure and function requires reliable protocols for production and purification. We developed such strategies for baculovirus generated soluble recombinant human DPP4 (residues 29-766) produced in insect cells. Purification used differential ammonium sulphate precipitation, hydrophobic interaction chromatography, dye affinity chromatography in series with immobilised metal affinity chromatography, and ion-exchange chromatography. The binding affinities of DPP4 to the SARS-CoV-2 full-length spike protein and its receptor-binding domain (RBD) were measured using surface plasmon resonance and ELISA. This optimised DPP4 purification procedure yielded 1 to 1.8 mg of pure fully active soluble DPP4 protein per litre of insect cell culture with specific activity >30 U/mg, indicative of high purity. No specific binding between DPP4 and CoV-2 spike protein was detected by surface plasmon resonance or ELISA. In summary, a procedure for high purity high yield soluble human DPP4 was achieved and used to show that, unlike MERS, SARS-CoV-2 does not bind human DPP4.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/isolation & purification , Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/biosynthesis , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Baculoviridae/genetics , Baculoviridae/metabolism , Cloning, Molecular , Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4/biosynthesis , Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4/chemistry , Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4/genetics , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay , Gene Expression , Humans , Kinetics , Models, Molecular , Plasmids/chemistry , Plasmids/metabolism , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Protein Structure, Secondary , Recombinant Proteins/chemistry , Recombinant Proteins/genetics , Recombinant Proteins/isolation & purification , Recombinant Proteins/metabolism , Sf9 Cells , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/biosynthesis , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spodoptera , Surface Plasmon Resonance
12.
J Gen Virol ; 102(1)2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-873186

ABSTRACT

Although enveloped viruses canonically mediate particle entry through virus-cell fusion, certain viruses can spread by cell-cell fusion, brought about by receptor engagement and triggering of membrane-bound, viral-encoded fusion proteins on the surface of cells. The formation of pathogenic syncytia or multinucleated cells is seen in vivo, but their contribution to viral pathogenesis is poorly understood. For the negative-strand paramyxoviruses respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Nipah virus (NiV), cell-cell spread is highly efficient because their oligomeric fusion protein complexes are active at neutral pH. The recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has also been reported to induce syncytia formation in infected cells, with the spike protein initiating cell-cell fusion. Whilst it is well established that fusion protein-specific antibodies can block particle attachment and/or entry into the cell (canonical virus neutralization), their capacity to inhibit cell-cell fusion and the consequences of this neutralization for the control of infection are not well characterized, in part because of the lack of specific tools to assay and quantify this activity. Using an adapted bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay, based on a split GFP-Renilla luciferase reporter, we have established a micro-fusion inhibition test (mFIT) that allows the identification and quantification of these neutralizing antibodies. This assay has been optimized for high-throughput use and its applicability has been demonstrated by screening monoclonal antibody (mAb)-mediated inhibition of RSV and NiV fusion and, separately, the development of fusion-inhibitory antibodies following NiV vaccine immunization in pigs. In light of the recent emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a similar assay was developed for SARS-CoV-2 and used to screen mAbs and convalescent patient plasma for fusion-inhibitory antibodies. Using mFITs to assess antibody responses following natural infection or vaccination is favourable, as this assay can be performed entirely at low biocontainment, without the need for live virus. In addition, the repertoire of antibodies that inhibit cell-cell fusion may be different to those that inhibit particle entry, shedding light on the mechanisms underpinning antibody-mediated neutralization of viral spread.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/pharmacology , COVID-19/diagnosis , Henipavirus Infections/diagnosis , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/diagnosis , Viral Fusion Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Fusion , Convalescence , Genes, Reporter , Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics , Green Fluorescent Proteins/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Henipavirus Infections/immunology , Henipavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Immune Sera/chemistry , Luciferases/genetics , Luciferases/metabolism , Models, Molecular , Nipah Virus/immunology , Nipah Virus/pathogenicity , Protein Conformation , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/virology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/pathogenicity , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Swine , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/chemistry , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/metabolism , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/pharmacology , Viral Fusion Proteins/genetics , Viral Fusion Proteins/immunology
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