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EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-329660


Following Delta, Omicron variant triggered a new wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection globally, adaptive evolution of the virus may not stop, the development of broad-spectrum antivirals is still urgent. We previously developed two hetero-bivalent nanobodies with potent neutralization against original WT SARS-CoV-2, termed aRBD-2-5 and aRBD-2-7, by fusing aRBD-2 with aRBD-5 or aRBD-7, respectively. Here, we resolved crystal structures of these nanobodies in complex with RBD, and found the epitope of aRBD-2 differs from that of aRBD-5, aRBD-7. aRBD-2 binds to a conserved epitope which renders its binding activity to all variants of concern (VOCs) including Omicron. Interestingly, although monovalent aRBD-5 and aRBD-7 lost binding to some variants, they effectively improved the overall affinity when transformed into the hetero-bivalent form after being fused with aRBD-2. Consistent with the high binding affinities, aRBD-2-5-Fc and aRBD-2-7-Fc exhibited ultra-potent neutralization to all five VOCs;particularly, aRBD-2-5-Fc neutralized authentic virus of Beta, Delta and Omicron with the IC50 of 5.98~9.65 ng/mL or 54.3~87.6 pM. Importantly, aRBD-2-5-Fc provided in vivo prophylactic protection for mice against WT and mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2, and provided full protection against Omicron in hamster model when administrated either prophylactically or therapeutically. Taken together, we found a conserved epitope on RBD, and hetero-bivalent nanobodies had increased affinity for VOCs over its monovalent form, and provided potent and broad-spectrum protection both in vitro and in vivo against all tested major variants, and potentially future emerging variants. Our strategy provides a new solution in the development of therapeutic antibodies for COVID-19 caused by newly emergent VOCs.