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Int J Mol Sci ; 23(15)2022 Jul 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1957347


Mutations in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 can lead to evasion from neutralizing antibodies and affect the efficacy of passive and active immunization strategies. Immunization of mice harboring an entire set of human immunoglobulin variable region gene segments allowed to identify nine neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, which either belong to a cluster of clonally related RBD or NTD binding antibodies. To better understand the genetic barrier to emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants resistant to these antibodies, escape mutants were selected in cell culture to one antibody from each cluster and a combination of the two antibodies. Three independently derived escape mutants to the RBD antibody harbored mutations in the RBD at the position T478 or S477. These mutations impaired the binding of the RBD antibodies to the spike protein and conferred resistance in a pseudotype neutralization assay. Although the binding of the NTD cluster antibodies were not affected by the RBD mutations, the RBD mutations also reduced the neutralization efficacy of the NTD cluster antibodies. The mutations found in the escape variants to the NTD antibody conferred resistance to the NTD, but not to the RBD cluster antibodies. A variant resistant to both antibodies was more difficult to select and only emerged after longer passages and higher inoculation volumes. VOC carrying the same mutations as the ones identified in the escape variants were also resistant to neutralization. This study further underlines the rapid emergence of escape mutants to neutralizing monoclonal antibodies in cell culture and indicates the need for thorough investigation of escape mutations to select the most potent combination of monoclonal antibodies for clinical use.

Antibodies, Neutralizing , COVID-19 , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Mice , Mutation , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(11)2022 Jun 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1884208


Based on the structure of a de novo designed miniprotein (LCB1) in complex with the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, we have generated and characterized truncated peptide variants of LCB1, which present only two of the three LCB1 helices, and which fully retained the virus neutralizing potency against different SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC). This antiviral activity was even 10-fold stronger for a cyclic variant of the two-helix peptides, as compared to the full-length peptide. Furthermore, the proteolytic stability of the cyclic peptide was substantially improved, rendering it a better potential candidate for SARS-CoV-2 therapy. In a more mechanistic approach, the peptides also served as tools to dissect the role of individual mutations in the RBD for the susceptibility of the resulting virus variants to neutralization by the peptides. As the peptides reported here were generated through chemical synthesis, rather than recombinant protein expression, they are amenable to further chemical modification, including the incorporation of a wide range of non-proteinogenic amino acids, with the aim to further stabilize the peptides against proteolytic degradation, as well as to improve the strength, as well the breadth, of their virus neutralizing capacity.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Peptides/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
Eur J Immunol ; 52(5): 770-783, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1589126


TRIANNI mice carry an entire set of human immunoglobulin V region gene segments and are a powerful tool to rapidly isolate human monoclonal antibodies. After immunizing these mice with DNA encoding the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and boosting with spike protein, we identified 29 hybridoma antibodies that reacted with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Nine antibodies neutralize SARS-CoV-2 infection at IC50 values in the subnanomolar range. ELISA-binding studies and DNA sequence analyses revealed one cluster of three clonally related neutralizing antibodies that target the receptor-binding domain and compete with the cellular receptor hACE2. A second cluster of six clonally related neutralizing antibodies bind to the N-terminal domain of the spike protein without competing with the binding of hACE2 or cluster 1 antibodies. SARS-CoV-2 mutants selected for resistance to an antibody from one cluster are still neutralized by an antibody from the other cluster. Antibodies from both clusters markedly reduced viral spread in mice transgenic for human ACE2 and protected the animals from SARS-CoV-2-induced weight loss. The two clusters of potent noncompeting SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies provide potential candidates for therapy and prophylaxis of COVID-19. The study further supports transgenic animals with a human immunoglobulin gene repertoire as a powerful platform in pandemic preparedness initiatives.

COVID-19 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Mice , SARS-CoV-2