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Front Microbiol ; 13: 840757, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1862623


The emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) may display enhanced transmissibility, more severity and/or immune evasion; however, the pathogenesis of these new VOCs in experimental SARS-CoV-2 models or the potential infection of other animal species is not completely understood. Here we infected K18-hACE2 transgenic mice with B.1, B.1.351/Beta, B.1.617.2/Delta and BA.1.1/Omicron isolates and demonstrated heterogeneous infectivity and pathogenesis. B.1.351/Beta variant was the most pathogenic, while BA.1.1/Omicron led to lower viral RNA in the absence of major visible clinical signs. In parallel, we infected wildtype (WT) mice and confirmed that, contrary to B.1 and B.1.617.2/Delta, B.1.351/Beta and BA.1.1/Omicron can infect them. Infection in WT mice coursed without major clinical signs and viral RNA was transient and undetectable in the lungs by day 7 post-infection. In silico modeling supported these findings by predicting B.1.351/Beta receptor binding domain (RBD) mutations result in an increased affinity for both human and murine ACE2 receptors, while BA.1/Omicron RBD mutations only show increased affinity for murine ACE2.

Viruses ; 13(6)2021 06 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1270125


With the spread of new variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), there is a need to assess the protection conferred by both previous infections and current vaccination. Here we tested the neutralizing activity of infected and/or vaccinated individuals against pseudoviruses expressing the spike of the original SARS-CoV-2 isolate Wuhan-Hu-1 (WH1), the D614G mutant and the B.1.1.7 variant. Our data show that parameters of natural infection (time from infection and nature of the infecting variant) determined cross-neutralization. Uninfected vaccinees showed a small reduction in neutralization against the B.1.1.7 variant compared to both the WH1 strain and the D614G mutant. Interestingly, upon vaccination, previously infected individuals developed more robust neutralizing responses against B.1.1.7, suggesting that vaccines can boost the neutralization breadth conferred by natural infection.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Neutralization Tests/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vaccination/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19 Serological Testing/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Cross Reactions/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunity, Humoral , Male , Middle Aged , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
Comput Struct Biotechnol J ; 19: 759-766, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1036889


The recent emergence of the novel SARS-CoV-2 in China and its rapid spread in the human population has led to a public health crisis worldwide. Like in SARS-CoV, horseshoe bats currently represent the most likely candidate animal source for SARS-CoV-2. Yet, the specific mechanisms of cross-species transmission and adaptation to the human host remain unknown. Here we show that the unsupervised analysis of conservation patterns across the ß-CoV spike protein family, using sequence information alone, can provide valuable insights on the molecular basis of the specificity of ß-CoVs to different host cell receptors. More precisely, our results indicate that host cell receptor usage is encoded in the amino acid sequences of different CoV spike proteins in the form of a set of specificity determining positions (SDPs). Furthermore, by integrating structural data, in silico mutagenesis and coevolution analysis we could elucidate the role of SDPs in mediating ACE2 binding across the Sarbecovirus lineage, either by engaging the receptor through direct intermolecular interactions or by affecting the local environment of the receptor binding motif. Finally, by the analysis of coevolving mutations across a paired MSA we were able to identify key intermolecular contacts occurring at the spike-ACE2 interface. These results show that effective mining of the evolutionary records held in the sequence of the spike protein family can help tracing the molecular mechanisms behind the evolution and host-receptor adaptation of circulating and future novel ß-CoVs.