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PLoS Pathog ; 18(5): e1010518, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1902647


The three human pathogenic ebolaviruses: Zaire (EBOV), Bundibugyo (BDBV), and Sudan (SUDV) virus, cause severe disease with high fatality rates. Epitopes of ebolavirus glycoprotein (GP) recognized by antibodies with binding breadth for all three ebolaviruses are of major interest for rational vaccine design. In particular, the heptad repeat 2 -membrane-proximal external region (HR2-MPER) epitope is relatively conserved between EBOV, BDBV, and SUDV GP and targeted by human broadly-neutralizing antibodies. To study whether this epitope can serve as an immunogen for the elicitation of broadly-reactive antibody responses, protein design in Rosetta was employed to transplant the HR2-MPER epitope identified from a co-crystal structure with the known broadly-reactive monoclonal antibody (mAb) BDBV223 onto smaller scaffold proteins. From computational analysis, selected immunogen designs were produced as recombinant proteins and functionally validated, leading to the identification of a sterile alpha motif (SAM) domain displaying the BDBV-HR2-MPER epitope near its C terminus as a promising candidate. The immunogen was fused to one component of a self-assembling, two-component nanoparticle and tested for immunogenicity in rabbits. Robust titers of cross-reactive serum antibodies to BDBV and EBOV GPs and moderate titers to SUDV GP were induced following immunization. To confirm the structural composition of the immunogens, solution NMR studies were conducted and revealed structural flexibility in the C-terminal residues of the epitope. Overall, our study represents the first report on an epitope-focused immunogen design based on the structurally challenging BDBV-HR2-MPER epitope.

Ebolavirus , Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Epitopes , Glycoproteins , Rabbits
FASEB J ; 34(12): 15946-15960, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-814176


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of the global pandemic of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 is a zoonotic disease, but little is known about variations in species susceptibility that could identify potential reservoir species, animal models, and the risk to pets, wildlife, and livestock. Certain species, such as domestic cats and tigers, are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, while other species such as mice and chickens are not. Most animal species, including those in close contact with humans, have unknown susceptibility. Hence, methods to predict the infection risk of animal species are urgently needed. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is critical for viral cell entry and infection. Here we integrate species differences in susceptibility with multiple in-depth structural analyses to identify key ACE2 amino acid positions including 30, 83, 90, 322, and 354 that distinguish susceptible from resistant species. Using differences in these residues across species, we developed a susceptibility score that predicts an elevated risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for multiple species including horses and camels. We also demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 is nearly optimal for binding ACE2 of humans compared to other animals, which may underlie the highly contagious transmissibility of this virus among humans. Taken together, our findings define potential ACE2 and SARS-CoV-2 residues for therapeutic targeting and identification of animal species on which to focus research and protection measures for environmental and public health.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , COVID-19/genetics , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Receptors, Virus/chemistry , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Camelus , Glycosylation , Horses , Humans , Models, Molecular , Phylogeny , Protein Binding , Protein Structure, Tertiary , Receptors, Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Alignment , Species Specificity
Nature ; 584(7821): 443-449, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-647154


The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a major threat to global health1 and the medical countermeasures available so far are limited2,3. Moreover, we currently lack a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-24. Here we analyse a large panel of human monoclonal antibodies that target the spike (S) glycoprotein5, and identify several that exhibit potent neutralizing activity and fully block the receptor-binding domain of the S protein (SRBD) from interacting with human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Using competition-binding, structural and functional studies, we show that the monoclonal antibodies can be clustered into classes that recognize distinct epitopes on the SRBD, as well as distinct conformational states of the S trimer. Two potently neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, COV2-2196 and COV2-2130, which recognize non-overlapping sites, bound simultaneously to the S protein and neutralized wild-type SARS-CoV-2 virus in a synergistic manner. In two mouse models of SARS-CoV-2 infection, passive transfer of COV2-2196, COV2-2130 or a combination of both of these antibodies protected mice from weight loss and reduced the viral burden and levels of inflammation in the lungs. In addition, passive transfer of either of two of the most potent ACE2-blocking monoclonal antibodies (COV2-2196 or COV2-2381) as monotherapy protected rhesus macaques from SARS-CoV-2 infection. These results identify protective epitopes on the SRBD and provide a structure-based framework for rational vaccine design and the selection of robust immunotherapeutic agents.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Betacoronavirus/chemistry , Binding, Competitive , COVID-19 , Cell Line , Cross Reactions , Disease Models, Animal , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/chemistry , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/immunology , Female , Humans , Macaca mulatta , Male , Mice , Middle Aged , Neutralization Tests , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis , SARS Virus/chemistry , SARS Virus/immunology , SARS-CoV-2 , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism