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biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.04.06.438709


An ideal anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody would resist viral escape, have activity against diverse SARS-related coronaviruses, and be highly protective through viral neutralization and effector functions. Understanding how these properties relate to each other and vary across epitopes would aid development of antibody therapeutics and guide vaccine design. Here, we comprehensively characterize escape, breadth, and potency across a panel of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies targeting the receptor-binding domain (RBD), including S309, the parental antibody of the late-stage clinical antibody VIR-7831. We observe a tradeoff between SARS-CoV-2 in vitro neutralization potency and breadth of binding across SARS-related coronaviruses. Nevertheless, we identify several neutralizing antibodies with exceptional breadth and resistance to escape, including a new antibody (S2H97) that binds with high affinity to all SARS-related coronavirus clades via a unique RBD epitope centered on residue E516. S2H97 and other escape-resistant antibodies have high binding affinity and target functionally constrained RBD residues. We find that antibodies targeting the ACE2 receptor binding motif (RBM) typically have poor breadth and are readily escaped by mutations despite high neutralization potency, but we identify one potent RBM antibody (S2E12) with breadth across sarbecoviruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 and with a high barrier to viral escape. These data highlight functional diversity among antibodies targeting the RBD and identify epitopes and features to prioritize for antibody and vaccine development against the current and potential future pandemics.

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.

COVID-19 , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.31.437925


SARS-CoV-2 entry is mediated by the spike (S) glycoprotein which contains the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the N-terminal domain (NTD) as the two main targets of neutralizing antibodies (Abs). A novel variant of concern (VOC) named CAL.20C (B.1.427/B.1.429) was originally detected in California and is currently spreading throughout the US and 29 additional countries. It is unclear whether antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection or to the prototypic Wuhan-1 isolate-based vaccines will be impacted by the three B.1.427/B.1.429 S mutations: S13I, W152C and L452R. Here, we assessed neutralizing Ab responses following natural infection or mRNA vaccination using pseudoviruses expressing the wildtype or the B.1.427/B.1.429 S protein. Plasma from vaccinated or convalescent individuals exhibited neutralizing titers, which were reduced 3-6 fold against the B.1.427/B.1.429 variant relative to wildtype pseudoviruses. The RBD L452R mutation reduced or abolished neutralizing activity of 14 out of 35 RBD-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), including three clinical-stage mAbs. Furthermore, we observed a complete loss of B.1.427/B.1.429 neutralization for a panel of mAbs targeting the N-terminal domain due to a large structural rearrangement of the NTD antigenic supersite involving an S13I-mediated shift of the signal peptide cleavage site. These data warrant closer monitoring of signal peptide variants and their involvement in immune evasion and show that Abs directed to the NTD impose a selection pressure driving SARS-CoV-2 viral evolution through conventional and unconventional escape mechanisms.

Encephalitis, California , COVID-19
ssrn; 2020.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-SSRN | ID: ppzbmed-10.2139.ssrn.3588829


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in 2019 as the causative agent of the novel pandemic viral disease COVID-19. With no approved therapies, this pandemic illustrates the urgent need for safe, broad-spectrum antiviral countermeasures against SARS-CoV-2 and future emerging CoVs. We report that remdesivir (RDV), a monophosphoramidate prodrug of an adenosine analog, potently inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication in human lung cells and primary human airway epithelial cultures (EC50 = 0.01 µM). Weaker activity was observed in Vero E6 cells (EC50 = 1.65 µM) due to their low capacity to metabolize RDV. To rapidly evaluate in vivo efficacy, we engineered a chimeric SARS-CoV encoding the viral target of RDV, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, of SARS-CoV-2. In mice infected with chimeric virus, therapeutic RDV administration diminished lung viral load and improved pulmonary function as compared to vehicle treated animals. These data provide evidence that RDV is potently active against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro and in vivo, supporting its further clinical testing for treatment of COVID-19.Funding: This project was funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National 284 Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Service awards: 1U19AI142759 (Antiviral Drug 285 Discovery and Development Center awarded to M.R.D. and R.S.B); 5R01AI132178 awarded to T.P.S. 286 and R.S.B.; and 5R01AI108197 awarded to M.R.D. and R.S.B. D.R.M was funded by T32 AI007151 and 287 a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Award. The Marsico Lung Institute 288 Tissue Procurement and Cell Culture Core is supported by NIH grant DK065988 and Cystic Fibrosis 289 Foundation grant BOUCHE15RO. We also are grateful for support from the Dolly Parton COVID-19 290 Research Fund, the VUMC Office of Research, and the Elizabeth B. Lamb Center for Pediatric Research 291 at Vanderbilt University. Conflict of Interest: The authors affiliated with Gilead Sciences, Inc. are employees of the company and own company stock. The other authors have no conflict of interest to report.Ethical Approval: Human tracheobronchial epithelial cells provided by Dr. Scott Randell were obtained from airway specimens resected from patients undergoing surgery under University of North Carolina Institutional Review Board-approved protocols (#03-1396) by the Cystic Fibrosis Center Tissue Culture Core.

COVID-19 , Communicable Diseases , Cystic Fibrosis , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.03.19.997890


Coronaviruses (CoVs) traffic frequently between species resulting in novel disease outbreaks, most recently exemplified by the newly emerged SARS-CoV-2. Herein, we show that the ribonucleoside analog {beta}-D-N4-hydroxycytidine (NHC, EIDD-1931) has broad spectrum antiviral activity against SARS-CoV 2, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and related zoonotic group 2b or 2c Bat-CoVs, as well as increased potency against a coronavirus bearing resistance mutations to another nucleoside analog inhibitor. In mice infected with SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV, both prophylactic and therapeutic administration of EIDD-2801, an orally bioavailable NHC-prodrug (b-D-N4-hydroxycytidine-5-isopropyl ester), improved pulmonary function, and reduced virus titer and body weight loss. Decreased MERS-CoV yields in vitro and in vivo were associated with increased transition mutation frequency in viral but not host cell RNA, supporting a mechanism of lethal mutagenesis. The potency of NHC/EIDD-2801 against multiple coronaviruses, its therapeutic efficacy, and oral bioavailability in vivo, all highlight its potential utility as an effective antiviral against SARS-CoV-2 and other future zoonotic coronaviruses.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , Weight Loss , Coronavirus Infections