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1.
biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.05.08.491108

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 Omicron sublineages carry distinct spike mutations and represent an antigenic shift resulting in escape from antibodies induced by previous infection or vaccination. We show that hybrid immunity or vaccine boosters result in potent plasma neutralizing activity against Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 and that breakthrough infections, but not vaccination-only, induce neutralizing activity in the nasal mucosa. Consistent with immunological imprinting, most antibodies derived from memory B cells or plasma cells of Omicron breakthrough cases cross-react with the Wuhan-Hu-1, BA.1 and BA.2 receptor-binding domains whereas Omicron primary infections elicit B cells of narrow specificity. While most clinical antibodies have reduced neutralization of Omicron, we identified an ultrapotent pan-variant antibody, that is unaffected by any Omicron lineage spike mutations and is a strong candidate for clinical development.

2.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.12.472269

ABSTRACT

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.

3.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.10.13.464254

ABSTRACT

Understanding broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus antibody responses is key to developing countermeasures effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants and future spillovers of other sarbecoviruses. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of a human monoclonal antibody, designated S2K146, broadly neutralizing viruses belonging to all three sarbecovirus clades known to utilize ACE2 as entry receptor and protecting therapeutically against SARS-CoV-2 beta challenge in hamsters. Structural and functional studies show that most of the S2K146 epitope residues are shared with the ACE2 binding site and that the antibody inhibits receptor attachment competitively. Viral passaging experiments underscore an unusually high barrier for emergence of escape mutants making it an ideal candidate for clinical development. These findings unveil a key site of vulnerability for the development of a next generation of vaccines eliciting broad sarbecovirus immunity.

4.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.08.11.455956

ABSTRACT

Worldwide SARS-CoV-2 transmission leads to the recurrent emergence of variants, such as the recently described B.1.617.1 (kappa), B.1.617.2 (delta) and B.1.617.2+ (delta+). The B.1.617.2 (delta) variant of concern is causing a new wave of infections in many countries, mostly affecting unvaccinated individuals, and has become globally dominant. We show that these variants dampen the in vitro potency of vaccine-elicited serum neutralizing antibodies and provide a structural framework for describing the impact of individual mutations on immune evasion. Mutations in the B.1.617.1 (kappa) and B.1.617.2 (delta) spike glycoproteins abrogate recognition by several monoclonal antibodies via alteration of key antigenic sites, including an unexpected remodeling of the B.1.617.2 (delta) N-terminal domain. The binding affinity of the B.1.617.1 (kappa) and B.1.617.2 (delta) receptor-binding domain for ACE2 is comparable to the ancestral virus whereas B.1.617.2+ (delta+) exhibits markedly reduced affinity. We describe a previously uncharacterized class of N-terminal domain-directed human neutralizing monoclonal antibodies cross-reacting with several variants of concern, revealing a possible target for vaccine development.

5.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.04.06.438709

ABSTRACT

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.

6.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.04.07.438818

ABSTRACT

The recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) and the recurrent spillovers of coronaviruses in the human population highlight the need for broadly neutralizing antibodies that are not affected by the ongoing antigenic drift and that can prevent or treat future zoonotic infections. Here, we describe a human monoclonal antibody (mAb), designated S2X259, recognizing a highly conserved cryptic receptor-binding domain (RBD) epitope and cross-reacting with spikes from all sarbecovirus clades. S2X259 broadly neutralizes spike-mediated entry of SARS-CoV-2 including the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1 and B.1.427/B.1.429 VOC, as well as a wide spectrum of human and zoonotic sarbecoviruses through inhibition of ACE2 binding to the RBD. Furthermore, deep-mutational scanning and in vitro escape selection experiments demonstrate that S2X259 possesses a remarkably high barrier to the emergence of resistance mutants. We show that prophylactic administration of S2X259 protects Syrian hamsters against challenges with the prototypic SARS-CoV-2 and the B.1.351 variant, suggesting this mAb is a promising candidate for the prevention and treatment of emergent VOC and zoonotic infections. Our data unveil a key antigenic site targeted by broadly-neutralizing antibodies and will guide the design of pan-sarbecovirus vaccines.

7.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.31.437925

ABSTRACT

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.

8.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.12.426365

ABSTRACT

Variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified rapidly after the beginning of pandemic. One of them, involving the spike protein and called D614G, represents a substantial percentage of currently isolated strains. While research on this variant was ongoing worldwide, on December 20th 2020 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported a Threat Assessment Brief describing the emergence of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, named B.1.1.7, harboring multiple mutations mostly affecting the Spike protein. This viral variant has been recently associated with a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in South East England, with alarming implications for future virus transmission rates. Specifically, of the nine amino acid replacements that characterize the Spike in the emerging variant, four are found in the region between the Fusion Peptide and the RBD domain (namely the already known D614G, together with A570D, P681H, T716I), and one, N501Y, is found in the Spike Receptor Binding Domain - Receptor Binding Motif (RBD-RBM). In this study, by using in silico biology, we provide evidence that these amino acid replacements have dramatic effects on the interactions between SARS-CoV-2 Spike and the host ACE2 receptor or TMPRSS2, the protease that induces the fusogenic activity of Spike. Mostly, we show that these effects are strongly dependent on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 polymorphism, suggesting that dynamics of pandemics are strongly influenced not only by virus variation but also by host genetic background.

9.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.13.426548

ABSTRACT

Surveillance of genetic diversity in the SARS-CoV-2 is extremely important to detect the emergence of more infectious and deadly strains of the virus. In this study, we monitored mutational events in the SARS-CoV-2 genome through whole genome sequencing. The samples (n=48) were collected from the hot spot regions of the metropolitan city Karachi, Pakistan during the four months (May 2020 to August 2020) of first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data analysis highlighted 122 mutations, including 120 single nucleotide variations (SNV), and 2 deletions. Among the 122 mutations, there were 71 singletons, and 51 recurrent mutations. A total of 16 mutations, including 5 nonsynonymous mutations, were detected in spike protein. Notably, the spike protein missense mutation D614G was observed in 31 genomes. The phylogenetic analysis revealed majority of the genomes (36) classified as B lineage, where 2 genomes were from B.6 lineage, 5 genomes from B.1 ancestral lineage and remaining from B.1 sub-lineages. It was noteworthy that three clusters of B.1 sub-lineages were observed, including B.1.36 lineage (10 genomes), B.1.160 lineage (11 genomes), and B.1.255 lineage (5 genomes), which represent independent events of SARS-CoV-2 transmission within the city. The sub-lineage B.1.36 had higher representation from the Asian countries and the UK, B.1.160 correspond to the European countries with highest representation from the UK, Denmark, and lesser representation from India, Saudi Arabia, France and Switzerland, and the third sub-lineage (B.1.255) correspond to the USA. Collectively, our study provides meaningful insight into the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 lineages in spatio-temporal local transmission during the first wave of the pandemic.

10.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.13.426436

ABSTRACT

There is an urgent need to limit and stop the worldwide coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic via quick development of efficient and safe vaccination methods. Plasmid DNA vaccines are one of the most remarkable vaccines that can be developed in a short term. pVAX1-SARS-CoV2-co, which is a plasmid DNA vaccine, was designed to express severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. The produced antibodies lead to Immunoreactions against S protein, anti-receptor-binding-domain, and neutralizing action of pVAX1-SARS-CoV2-co, as confirmed in a previous study. To promote the efficacy of the pVAX1-SARS-CoV2-co vaccine, a pyro-drive jet injector (PJI) was employed. PJI is an injection device that can adjust the injection pressure depending on various target tissues. Intradermally-adjusted PJI demonstrated that pVAX1-SARS-CoV2-co vaccine injection caused a strong production of anti-S protein antibodies, triggered immunoreactions and neutralizing actions against SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, a high dose of pVAX1-SARS-CoV2-co intradermal injection via PJI did not cause any serious disorders in the rat model. Finally, virus infection challenge in mice, confirmed that intradermally immunized (via PJI) mice were potently protected from COVID-19 infection. Thus, pVAX1-SARS-CoV2-co intradermal injection via PJI is a safe and promising vaccination method to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

11.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.14.426726

ABSTRACT

We present a structure-based model of phosphorylation-dependent binding and sequestration of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein and the impact of two consecutive amino acid changes R203K and G204R. Additionally, we studied how mutant strains affect HLA-specific antigen presentation and correlated these findings with HLA allelic population frequencies. We discovered RG>KR mutated SARS-CoV-2 expands the ability for differential expression of the N protein epitope on Major Histocompatibility Complexes (MHC) of varying Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) origin. The N protein LKR region K203, R204 of wild type (SARS-CoVs) and (SARS-CoV-2) observed HLA-A*30:01 and HLA-A*30:21, but mutant SARS-CoV-2 observed HLA-A*31:01 and HLA-A*68:01. Expression of HLA-A genotypes associated with the mutant strain occurred more frequently in all populations studied. ImportanceThe novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 causes a disease renowned as 2019-nCoV (or COVID-19). HLA allele frequencies worldwide could positively correlate with the severity of coronavirus cases and a high number of deaths.

12.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.14.426475

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 entry into host cells is orchestrated by the spike (S) glycoprotein that contains an immunodominant receptor-binding domain (RBD) targeted by the largest fraction of neutralizing antibodies (Abs) in COVID-19 patient plasma. Little is known about neutralizing Abs binding to epitopes outside the RBD and their contribution to protection. Here, we describe 41 human monoclonal Abs (mAbs) derived from memory B cells, which recognize the SARS-CoV-2 S N-terminal domain (NTD) and show that a subset of them neutralize SARS-CoV-2 ultrapotently. We define an antigenic map of the SARS-CoV-2 NTD and identify a supersite recognized by all known NTD-specific neutralizing mAbs. These mAbs inhibit cell-to-cell fusion, activate effector functions, and protect Syrian hamsters from SARS-CoV-2 challenge. SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the 501Y.V2 and B.1.1.7 lineages, harbor frequent mutations localized in the NTD supersite suggesting ongoing selective pressure and the importance of NTD-specific neutralizing mAbs to protective immunity.

13.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.13.426628

ABSTRACT

The origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing the global coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic, remains a mystery. Current evidence suggests a likely spillover into humans from an animal reservoir. Understanding the host range and identifying animal species that are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection may help to elucidate the origin of the virus and the mechanisms underlying cross-species transmission to humans. Here we demonstrated that white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), an animal species in which the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) - the SARS-CoV-2 receptor - shares a high degree of similarity to humans, are highly susceptible to infection. Intranasal inoculation of deer fawns with SARS-CoV-2 resulted in established subclinical viral infection and shedding of infectious virus in nasal secretions. Notably, infected animals transmitted the virus to non-inoculated contact deer. Viral RNA was detected in multiple tissues 21 days post-inoculation (pi). All inoculated and indirect contact animals seroconverted and developed neutralizing antibodies as early as day 7 pi. The work provides important insights into the animal host range of SARS-CoV-2 and identifies white-tailed deer as a susceptible wild animal species to the virus. IMPORTANCEGiven the presumed zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2, the human-animal-environment interface of COVID-19 pandemic is an area of great scientific and public- and animal-health interest. Identification of animal species that are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 may help to elucidate the potential origin of the virus, identify potential reservoirs or intermediate hosts, and define the mechanisms underlying cross-species transmission to humans. Additionally, it may also provide information and help to prevent potential reverse zoonosis that could lead to the establishment of a new wildlife hosts. Our data show that upon intranasal inoculation, white-tailed deer became subclinically infected and shed infectious SARS-CoV-2 in nasal secretions and feces. Importantly, indirect contact animals were infected and shed infectious virus, indicating efficient SARS-CoV-2 transmission from inoculated animals. These findings support the inclusion of wild cervid species in investigations conducted to assess potential reservoirs or sources of SARS-CoV-2 of infection.

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