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1.
Antibodies (Basel) ; 10(4)2021 Nov 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512074

ABSTRACT

The use of passively-administered neutralizing antibodies is a promising approach for the prevention and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Antibody-mediated protection may involve immune system recruitment through Fc-dependent activation of effector cells and the complement system. However, the role of Fc-mediated functions in the efficacious in-vivo neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 is not yet clear, and it is of high importance to delineate the role this process plays in antibody-mediated protection. Toward this aim, we have chosen two highly potent SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies, MD65 and BLN1 that target distinct domains of the spike (RBD and NTD, respectively). The Fc of these antibodies was engineered to include the triple mutation N297G/S298G/T299A that eliminates glycosylation and the binding to FcγR and to the complement system activator C1q. As expected, the virus neutralization activity (in-vitro) of the engineered antibodies was retained. To study the role of Fc-mediated functions, the protective activity of these antibodies was tested against lethal SARS-CoV-2 infection of K18-hACE2 transgenic mice, when treatment was initiated either before or two days post-exposure. Antibody treatment with both Fc-variants similarly rescued the mice from death reduced viral load and prevented signs of morbidity. Taken together, this work provides important insight regarding the contribution of Fc-effector functions in MD65 and BLN1 antibody-mediated protection, which should aid in the future design of effective antibody-based therapies.

2.
Microbiol Spectr ; 9(2): e0087021, 2021 10 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1455682

ABSTRACT

The first case of SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in Israel in late February 2020. Three major outbreaks followed, resulting in over 800,000 cases and over 6,000 deaths by April 2021. Our aim was characterization of a serological snapshot of Israeli patients and healthy adults in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sera from 55 symptomatic COVID-19 patients and 146 healthy subjects (early-pandemic, reverse transcription-quantitative PCR [qRT-PCR]-negative), collected in Israel between March and April 2020, were screened for SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG, IgM, and IgA antibodies, using a 6-plex antigen microarray presenting the whole inactivated virus and five viral antigens: a stabilized version of the spike ectodomain (S2P), spike subunit 1 (S1), receptor-binding-domain (RBD), N-terminal-domain (NTD), and nucleocapsid (NC). COVID-19 patients, 4 to 40 days post symptom onset, presented specific IgG to all of the viral antigens (6/6) in 54 of the 55 samples (98% sensitivity). Specific IgM and IgA antibodies for all six antigens were detected in only 10% (5/55) and 4% (2/55) of the patients, respectively, suggesting that specific IgG is a superior serological marker for COVID-19. None of the qRT-PCR-negative sera reacted with all six viral antigens (100% specificity), and 48% (70/146) were negative throughout the panel. Our findings confirm a low seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the Israeli adult population prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. We further suggest that the presence of low-level cross-reacting antibodies in naive individuals calls for a combined, multiantigen analysis for accurate discrimination between naive and exposed individuals. IMPORTANCE A 6-plex protein array presenting the whole inactivated virus and five nucleocapsid and spike-derived SARS-CoV-2 antigens was used to generate a serological snapshot of SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence and seroconversion in Israel in the early months of the pandemic. Our findings confirm a very low seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the Israeli adult population. We further propose that the presence of low-level nonspecific antibodies in naive individuals calls for a combined, multiantigen analysis for accurate discrimination between naive and exposed individuals enabling accurate determination of seroconversion. The developed assay is currently applied to evaluate immune responses to the Israeli vaccine during human phase I/II trials.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/epidemiology , Microarray Analysis/methods , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Aged , Antigens, Viral/immunology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunoassay/methods , Immunoglobulin A/blood , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Immunoglobulin M/blood , Israel/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Phosphoproteins/immunology , Sensitivity and Specificity , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Young Adult
3.
Cell Rep ; 36(10): 109679, 2021 09 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1363916

ABSTRACT

A wide range of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have been reported, most of which target the spike glycoprotein. Therapeutic implementation of these antibodies has been challenged by emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants harboring mutated spike versions. Consequently, re-assessment of previously identified mAbs is of high priority. Four previously selected mAbs targeting non-overlapping epitopes are now evaluated for binding potency to mutated RBD versions, reported to mediate escape from antibody neutralization. In vitro neutralization potencies of these mAbs, and two NTD-specific mAbs, are evaluated against two frequent SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, the B.1.1.7 Alpha and the B.1.351 Beta. Furthermore, we demonstrate therapeutic potential of three selected mAbs by treatment of K18-human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) transgenic mice 2 days post-infection with each virus variant. Thus, despite the accumulation of spike mutations, the highly potent MD65 and BL6 mAbs retain their ability to bind the prevalent viral mutants, effectively protecting against B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Monoclonal/chemistry , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/chemistry , Antibody Affinity , COVID-19/therapy , COVID-19/virology , Epitopes/genetics , Epitopes/immunology , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Models, Molecular , Neutralization Tests , Protein Domains , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Treatment Outcome
4.
J Infect Dis ; 224(4): 616-619, 2021 08 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1358460

ABSTRACT

Emerging severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants may influence the effectiveness of existing laboratory diagnostics. In the current study we determined whether the British (20I/501Y.V1) and South African (20H/501Y.V2) SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern are detected with an in-house S1-based antigen detection assay, analyzing spiked pools of quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction-negative nasopharyngeal swab specimens. The assay, combining 4 monoclonal antibodies, allowed sensitive detection of both the wild type and the variants of concern, despite accumulation of several mutations in the variants' S1 region-results suggesting that this combination, targeting distinct epitopes, enables both specificity and the universality.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antigens, Viral/immunology , Antigens, Viral/isolation & purification , COVID-19/immunology , Humans , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Viral Load
5.
JCI Insight ; 6(12)2021 06 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1223641

ABSTRACT

Mice are normally unaffected by SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection since the virus does not bind effectively to the murine version of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor molecule. Here, we report that induced mild pulmonary morbidities rendered SARS-CoV-2-refractive CD-1 mice susceptible to this virus. Specifically, SARS-CoV-2 infection after application of low doses of the acute lung injury stimulants bleomycin or ricin caused severe disease in CD-1 mice, manifested by sustained body weight loss and mortality rates greater than 50%. Further studies revealed markedly higher levels of viral RNA in the lungs, heart, and serum of low-dose ricin-pretreated mice compared with non-pretreated mice. Furthermore, lung extracts prepared 2-3 days after viral infection contained subgenomic mRNA and virus particles capable of replication only when derived from the pretreated mice. The deleterious effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection were effectively alleviated by passive transfer of polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies generated against the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD). Thus, viral cell entry in the sensitized mice seems to depend on viral RBD binding, albeit by a mechanism other than the canonical ACE2-mediated uptake route. This unique mode of viral entry, observed over a mildly injured tissue background, may contribute to the exacerbation of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pathologies in patients with preexisting morbidities.


Subject(s)
Bleomycin/toxicity , COVID-19/pathology , Lung Injury , Ricin/toxicity , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Comorbidity , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Lung Injury/chemically induced , Lung Injury/virology , Mice , Vero Cells , Virus Attachment , Virus Internalization/drug effects
6.
iScience ; 24(5): 102479, 2021 May 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1202318

ABSTRACT

Neutralizing antibodies represent a valuable therapeutic approach to countermeasure the current COVID-19 pandemic. Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants emphasizes the notion that antibody treatments need to rely on highly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), targeting several distinct epitopes for circumventing therapy escape mutants. Previously, we reported efficient human therapeutic mAbs recognizing epitopes on the spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2. Here we report the isolation, characterization, and recombinant production of 12 neutralizing human mAbs, targeting three distinct epitopes on the spike N-terminal domain of the virus. Neutralization mechanism of these antibodies involves receptors other than the canonical hACE2 on target cells, relying both on amino acid and N-glycan epitope recognition, suggesting alternative viral cellular portals. Two selected mAbs demonstrated full protection of K18-hACE2 transgenic mice when administered at low doses and late post-exposure, demonstrating the high potential of the mAbs for therapy of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

7.
Anal Bioanal Chem ; 413(13): 3501-3510, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1151992

ABSTRACT

Public health experts emphasize the need for quick, point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 detection as an effective strategy for controlling virus spread. To this end, many "antigen" detection devices were developed and commercialized. These devices are mostly based on detecting SARS-CoV-2's nucleocapsid protein. Recently, alerts issued by both the FDA and the CDC raised concerns regarding the devices' tendency to exhibit false positive results. In this work, we developed a novel alternative spike-based antigen assay, comprising four high-affinity, specific monoclonal antibodies, directed against different epitopes on the spike's S1 subunit. The assay's performance was evaluated for COVID-19 detection from nasopharyngeal swabs, compared to an in-house nucleocapsid-based assay, composed of novel antibodies directed against the nucleocapsid. Detection of COVID-19 was carried out in a cohort of 284 qRT-PCR positive and negative nasopharyngeal swab samples. The time resolved fluorescence (TRF) ELISA spike assay displayed very high specificity (99%) accompanied with a somewhat lower sensitivity (66% for Ct < 25), compared to the nucleocapsid ELISA assay which was more sensitive (85% for Ct < 25) while less specific (87% specificity). Despite being outperformed by qRT-PCR, we suggest that there is room for such tests in the clinical setting, as cheap and rapid pre-screening tools. Our results further suggest that when applying antigen detection, one must consider its intended application (sensitivity vs specificity), taking into consideration that the nucleocapsid might not be the optimal target. In this regard, we propose that a combination of both antigens might contribute to the validity of the results. Schematic representation of sample collection and analysis. The figure was created using BioRender.com.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/analysis , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay/methods , Humans , Phosphoproteins/analysis , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling
8.
Viruses ; 13(4)2021 03 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1154538

ABSTRACT

Monoclonal antibodies represent an important avenue for COVID-19 therapy and are routinely used for rapid and accessible diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic variants emphasized the need to enlarge the repertoire of antibodies that target diverse epitopes, the combination of which may improve immune-diagnostics, augment the efficiency of the immunotherapy and prevent selection of escape-mutants. Antigen-specific controlled immunization of experimental animals may elicit antibody repertoires that significantly differ from those generated in the context of the immune response mounted in the course of disease. Accordingly, rabbits were immunized by several recombinant antigens representing distinct domains of the viral spike protein and monoclonal antibodies were isolated from single cells obtained by cell sorting. Characterization of a panel of successfully isolated anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) and anti-N-terminal domain (NTD) antibodies demonstrated that they exhibit high specificity and affinity profiles. Anti-RBD antibodies revealing significant neutralizing potency against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro were found to target at least three distinct epitopes. Epitope mapping established that two of these antibodies recognized a novel epitope located on the surface of the RBD. We suggest that the antibodies isolated in this study are useful for designing SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and therapy approaches.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Epitope Mapping , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/genetics , Epitopes/immunology , Female , Humans , Neutralization Tests , Rabbits , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
9.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 944, 2021 02 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1078588

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), exhibits high levels of mortality and morbidity and has dramatic consequences on human life, sociality and global economy. Neutralizing antibodies constitute a highly promising approach for treating and preventing infection by this novel pathogen. In the present study, we characterize and further evaluate the recently identified human monoclonal MD65 antibody for its ability to provide protection against a lethal SARS-CoV-2 infection of K18-hACE2 transgenic mice. Eighty percent of the untreated mice succumbed 6-9 days post-infection, while administration of the MD65 antibody as late as 3 days after exposure rescued all infected animals. In addition, the efficiency of the treatment is supported by prevention of morbidity and ablation of the load of infective virions in the lungs of treated animals. The data demonstrate the therapeutic value of human monoclonal antibodies as a life-saving treatment for severe COVID-19 infection.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Viral/administration & dosage , COVID-19/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/genetics , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/genetics , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/genetics , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Chlorocebus aethiops , Female , Immunoglobulin G/administration & dosage , Immunoglobulin G/genetics , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Male , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Seroconversion , Vero Cells , Viral Load
10.
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 6402, 2020 12 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-983658

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 imposes an urgent need for rapid development of an efficient and cost-effective vaccine, suitable for mass immunization. Here, we show the development of a replication competent recombinant VSV-∆G-spike vaccine, in which the glycoprotein of VSV is replaced by the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. In-vitro characterization of this vaccine indicates the expression and presentation of the spike protein on the viral membrane with antigenic similarity to SARS-CoV-2. A golden Syrian hamster in-vivo model for COVID-19 is implemented. We show that a single-dose vaccination results in a rapid and potent induction of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies. Importantly, vaccination protects hamsters against SARS-CoV-2 challenge, as demonstrated by the abrogation of body weight loss, and  alleviation of the extensive tissue damage and viral loads in lungs and nasal turbinates. Taken together, we suggest the recombinant VSV-∆G-spike as a safe, efficacious and protective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vaccines, Synthetic/immunology , Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antigens, Viral/immunology , Body Weight , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic , Genome, Viral , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mutation/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/ultrastructure , Vaccination , Viral Load
11.
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 4303, 2020 08 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-733523

ABSTRACT

The novel highly transmissible human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus far, there is no approved therapeutic drug specifically targeting this emerging virus. Here we report the isolation and characterization of a panel of human neutralizing monoclonal antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD). These antibodies were selected from a phage display library constructed using peripheral circulatory lymphocytes collected from patients at the acute phase of the disease. These neutralizing antibodies are shown to recognize distinct epitopes on the viral spike RBD. A subset of the antibodies exert their inhibitory activity by abrogating binding of the RBD to the human ACE2 receptor. The human monoclonal antibodies described here represent a promising basis for the design of efficient combined post-exposure therapy for SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/metabolism , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epitope Mapping , Epitopes , Humans , Peptide Library , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Vero Cells
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