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Nat Commun ; 12(1): 7325, 2021 12 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585854


Single-domain Variable New Antigen Receptors (VNARs) from the immune system of sharks are the smallest naturally occurring binding domains found in nature. Possessing flexible paratopes that can recognize protein motifs inaccessible to classical antibodies, VNARs have yet to be exploited for the development of SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics. Here, we detail the identification of a series of VNARs from a VNAR phage display library screened against the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD). The ability of the VNARs to neutralize pseudotype and authentic live SARS-CoV-2 virus rivalled or exceeded that of full-length immunoglobulins and other single-domain antibodies. Crystallographic analysis of two VNARs found that they recognized separate epitopes on the RBD and had distinctly different mechanisms of virus neutralization unique to VNARs. Structural and biochemical data suggest that VNARs would be effective therapeutic agents against emerging SARS-CoV-2 mutants, including the Delta variant, and coronaviruses across multiple phylogenetic lineages. This study highlights the utility of VNARs as effective therapeutics against coronaviruses and may serve as a critical milestone for nearing a paradigm shift of the greater biologic landscape.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Crystallography, X-Ray , Receptors, Antigen/chemistry , Receptors, Antigen/immunology , Sharks/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Animals , COVID-19 , Epitopes , Mutation , Phylogeny , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Alignment , Single-Domain Antibodies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
Viruses ; 13(11)2021 11 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1502526


ORF3a has been identified as a viroporin of SARS-CoV-2 and is known to be involved in various pathophysiological activities including disturbance of cellular calcium homeostasis, inflammasome activation, apoptosis induction and disruption of autophagy. ORF3a-targeting antibodies may specifically and favorably modulate these viroporin-dependent pathological activities. However, suitable viroporin-targeting antibodies are difficult to generate because of the well-recognized technical challenge associated with isolating antibodies to complex transmembrane proteins. Here we exploited a naïve human single chain antibody phage display library, to isolate binders against carefully chosen ORF3a recombinant epitopes located towards the extracellular N terminal and cytosolic C terminal domains of the protein using peptide antigens. These binders were subjected to further characterization using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and surface plasmon resonance analysis to assess their binding affinities to the target epitopes. Binding to full-length ORF3a protein was evaluated by western blot and fluorescent microscopy using ORF3a transfected cells and SARS-CoV-2 infected cells. Co-localization analysis was also performed to evaluate the "pairing potential" of the selected binders as possible alternative diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers for COVID-19 infections. Both ORF3a N and C termini, epitope-specific monoclonal antibodies were identified in our study. Whilst the linear nature of peptides might not always represent their native conformations in the context of full protein, with carefully designed selection protocols, we have been successful in isolating anti-ORF3a binders capable of recognising regions of the transmembrane protein that are exposed either on the "inside" or "outside" of the infected cell. Their therapeutic potential will be discussed.

Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Viroporin Proteins/immunology , Animals , Biomarkers , COS Cells , Cell Surface Display Techniques/methods , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epitopes/immunology , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Membrane Proteins/immunology , Protein Domains , Vero Cells