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biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.12.472269


The recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant harbors 37 amino acid substitutions in the spike (S) protein, 15 of which are in the receptor-binding domain (RBD), thereby raising concerns about the effectiveness of available vaccines and antibody therapeutics. Here, we show that the Omicron RBD binds to human ACE2 with enhanced affinity relative to the Wuhan-Hu-1 RBD and acquires binding to mouse ACE2. Severe reductions of plasma neutralizing activity were observed against Omicron compared to the ancestral pseudovirus for vaccinated and convalescent individuals. Most (26 out of 29) receptor-binding motif (RBM)-directed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) lost in vitro neutralizing activity against Omicron, with only three mAbs, including the ACE2-mimicking S2K146 mAb, retaining unaltered potency. Furthermore, a fraction of broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus mAbs recognizing antigenic sites outside the RBM, including sotrovimab, S2X259 and S2H97, neutralized Omicron. The magnitude of Omicron-mediated immune evasion and the acquisition of binding to mouse ACE2 mark a major SARS-CoV-2 mutational shift. Broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus mAbs recognizing epitopes conserved among SARS-CoV-2 variants and other sarbecoviruses may prove key to controlling the ongoing pandemic and future zoonotic spillovers.

medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.06.21.21259286


SARS-CoV-2 evolution threatens vaccine- and natural infection-derived immunity, and the efficacy of therapeutic antibodies. Herein we sought to predict Spike amino acid changes that could contribute to future variants of concern. We tested the importance of features comprising epidemiology, evolution, immunology, and neural network-based protein sequence modeling. This resulted in identification of the primary biological drivers of SARS-CoV-2 intra-pandemic evolution. We found evidence that resistance to population-level host immunity has increasingly shaped SARS-CoV-2 evolution over time. We identified with high accuracy mutations that will spread, at up to four months in advance, across different phases of the pandemic. Behavior of the model was consistent with a plausible causal structure wherein epidemiological variables integrate the effects of diverse and shifting drivers of viral fitness. We applied our model to forecast mutations that will spread in the future, and characterize how these mutations affect the binding of therapeutic antibodies. These findings demonstrate that it is possible to forecast the driver mutations that could appear in emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. This modeling approach may be applied to any pathogen with genomic surveillance data, and so may address other rapidly evolving pathogens such as influenza, and unknown future pandemic viruses.

biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.04.03.438258


Investigating the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 cellular infection is key to better understand COVID-19 immunity and pathogenesis. Infection, which involves both cell attachment and membrane fusion, relies on the ACE2 receptor that is paradoxically found at low levels in the respiratory tract, suggesting that additional mechanisms facilitating infection may exist. Here we show that C-type lectin receptors, DC-SIGN, L-SIGN and the sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectin 1 (SIGLEC1) function as auxiliary receptors by enhancing ACE2-mediated infection and modulating the neutralizing activity of different classes of spike-specific antibodies. Antibodies to the N-terminal domain (NTD) or to the conserved proteoglycan site at the base of the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD), while poorly neutralizing infection of ACE2 over-expressing cells, effectively block lectin-facilitated infection. Conversely, antibodies to the Receptor Binding Motif (RBM), while potently neutralizing infection of ACE2 over-expressing cells, poorly neutralize infection of cells expressing DC-SIGN or L-SIGN and trigger fusogenic rearrangement of the spike promoting cell-to-cell fusion. Collectively, these findings identify a lectin-dependent pathway that enhances ACE2-dependent infection by SARS-CoV-2 and reveal distinct mechanisms of neutralization by different classes of spike-specific antibodies.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , COVID-19
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.09.434607


VIR-7831 and VIR-7832 are dual action monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting the spike glycoprotein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). VIR-7831 and VIR-7832 were derived from a parent antibody (S309) isolated from memory B cells of a 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) survivor. Both mAbs contain an LS mutation in the Fc region to prolong serum half-life and potentially enhance distribution to the respiratory mucosa. In addition, VIR-7832 encodes an Fc GAALIE mutation that has been shown previously to evoke CD8+ T-cells in the context of an in vivo viral respiratory infection. VIR-7831 and VIR-7832 potently neutralize live wild-type SARS-CoV-2 in vitro as well as pseudotyped viruses encoding spike protein from the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants. In addition, they retain activity against monoclonal antibody resistance mutations that confer reduced susceptibility to currently authorized mAbs. The VIR-7831/VIR-7832 epitope does not overlap with mutational sites in the current variants of concern and continues to be highly conserved among circulating sequences consistent with the high barrier to resistance observed in vitro. Furthermore, both mAbs can recruit effector mechanisms in vitro that may contribute to clinical efficacy via elimination of infected host cells. In vitro studies with these mAbs demonstrated no enhancement of infection. In a Syrian Golden hamster proof-of concept concept wildtype SARS-CoV-2 infection model, animals treated with VIR-7831 had less weight loss, and significantly decreased total viral load and infectious virus levels in the lung compared to a control mAb. Taken together, these data indicate that VIR-7831 and VIR-7832 are promising new agents in the fight against COVID-19.

Coronavirus Infections , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , Respiratory Tract Infections , COVID-19 , Weight Loss