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Nat Commun ; 12(1): 542, 2021 01 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1044339


There is need for effective and affordable vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 to tackle the ongoing pandemic. In this study, we describe a protein nanoparticle vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine is based on the display of coronavirus spike glycoprotein receptor-binding domain (RBD) on a synthetic virus-like particle (VLP) platform, SpyCatcher003-mi3, using SpyTag/SpyCatcher technology. Low doses of RBD-SpyVLP in a prime-boost regimen induce a strong neutralising antibody response in mice and pigs that is superior to convalescent human sera. We evaluate antibody quality using ACE2 blocking and neutralisation of cell infection by pseudovirus or wild-type SARS-CoV-2. Using competition assays with a monoclonal antibody panel, we show that RBD-SpyVLP induces a polyclonal antibody response that recognises key epitopes on the RBD, reducing the likelihood of selecting neutralisation-escape mutants. Moreover, RBD-SpyVLP is thermostable and can be lyophilised without losing immunogenicity, to facilitate global distribution and reduce cold-chain dependence. The data suggests that RBD-SpyVLP provides strong potential to address clinical and logistic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Peptides/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Blocking/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Cell Line , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Protein Multimerization , Swine
J Gen Virol ; 102(1)2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-873186


Although enveloped viruses canonically mediate particle entry through virus-cell fusion, certain viruses can spread by cell-cell fusion, brought about by receptor engagement and triggering of membrane-bound, viral-encoded fusion proteins on the surface of cells. The formation of pathogenic syncytia or multinucleated cells is seen in vivo, but their contribution to viral pathogenesis is poorly understood. For the negative-strand paramyxoviruses respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Nipah virus (NiV), cell-cell spread is highly efficient because their oligomeric fusion protein complexes are active at neutral pH. The recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has also been reported to induce syncytia formation in infected cells, with the spike protein initiating cell-cell fusion. Whilst it is well established that fusion protein-specific antibodies can block particle attachment and/or entry into the cell (canonical virus neutralization), their capacity to inhibit cell-cell fusion and the consequences of this neutralization for the control of infection are not well characterized, in part because of the lack of specific tools to assay and quantify this activity. Using an adapted bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay, based on a split GFP-Renilla luciferase reporter, we have established a micro-fusion inhibition test (mFIT) that allows the identification and quantification of these neutralizing antibodies. This assay has been optimized for high-throughput use and its applicability has been demonstrated by screening monoclonal antibody (mAb)-mediated inhibition of RSV and NiV fusion and, separately, the development of fusion-inhibitory antibodies following NiV vaccine immunization in pigs. In light of the recent emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a similar assay was developed for SARS-CoV-2 and used to screen mAbs and convalescent patient plasma for fusion-inhibitory antibodies. Using mFITs to assess antibody responses following natural infection or vaccination is favourable, as this assay can be performed entirely at low biocontainment, without the need for live virus. In addition, the repertoire of antibodies that inhibit cell-cell fusion may be different to those that inhibit particle entry, shedding light on the mechanisms underpinning antibody-mediated neutralization of viral spread.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/pharmacology , COVID-19/diagnosis , Henipavirus Infections/diagnosis , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/diagnosis , Viral Fusion Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Fusion , Convalescence , Genes, Reporter , Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics , Green Fluorescent Proteins/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Henipavirus Infections/immunology , Henipavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Immune Sera/chemistry , Luciferases/genetics , Luciferases/metabolism , Models, Molecular , Nipah Virus/immunology , Nipah Virus/pathogenicity , Protein Conformation , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/virology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/immunology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/pathogenicity , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Swine , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/chemistry , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/metabolism , Viral Fusion Protein Inhibitors/pharmacology , Viral Fusion Proteins/genetics , Viral Fusion Proteins/immunology