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Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-516888


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.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-486719


Memory B-cell and antibody responses to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein contribute to long-term immune protection against severe COVID-19, which can also be prevented by antibody-based interventions. Here, wide SARS-CoV-2 immunoprofiling in COVID-19 convalescents combining serological, cellular and monoclonal antibody explorations, revealed humoral immunity coordination. Detailed characterization of a hundred SARS-CoV-2 spike memory B-cell monoclonal antibodies uncovered diversity in their repertoire and antiviral functions. The latter were influenced by the targeted spike region with strong Fc-dependent effectors to the S2 subunit and potent neutralizers to the receptor binding domain. Amongst those, Cv2.1169 and Cv2.3194 antibodies cross-neutralized SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern including Omicron BA.1 and BA.2. Cv2.1169, isolated from a mucosa-derived IgA memory B cell, demonstrated potency boost as IgA dimers and therapeutic efficacy as IgG antibodies in animal models. Structural data provided mechanistic clues to Cv2.1169 potency and breadth. Thus, potent broadly neutralizing IgA antibodies elicited in mucosal tissues can stem SARS-CoV-2 infection, and Cv2.1169 and Cv2.3194 are prime candidates for COVID-19 prevention and treatment.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-448011


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

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20230508


A large proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals remains asymptomatic. Little is known about the extent and quality of their antiviral humoral response. Here, we analyzed antibody functions in 52 asymptomatic infected individuals, 119 mild and 21 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. We measured anti-Spike antibody levels with the S-Flow assay and mapped SARS-CoV-2 Spike- and N-targeted regions by Luminex. Neutralization, complement deposition and Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity (ADCC) were evaluated using replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 or reporter cell systems. We show that COVID-19 sera mediate complement deposition and kill infected cells by ADCC. Sera from asymptomatic individuals neutralize the virus, activate ADCC and trigger complement deposition. Antibody levels and activities are slightly lower in asymptomatic individuals. The different functions of the antibodies are correlated, independently of disease severity. Longitudinal samplings show that antibody functions follow similar kinetics of induction and contraction, with minor variations. Overall, asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection elicits polyfunctional antibodies neutralizing the virus and targeting infected cells. - Sera from convalescent COVID-19 patients activate the complement and kill infected cells by ADCC. - Asymptomatic and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals harbor polyfunctional antibodies. - Antibody levels and functions are slightly lower in asymptomatic individuals - The different antiviral activities of anti-Spike antibodies are correlated regardless of disease severity. - Functions of anti-Spike antibodies have similar kinetics of induction and contraction.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-202028


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.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20068858


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.