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1.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327579

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION The pandemic readiness toolbox needs to be extended, providing diagnostic tools that target different biomolecules, using orthogonal experimental setups and fit-for-purpose specification of detection. Here we build on a previous Cov-MS effort that used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and describe a method that allows accurate, high throughput measurement of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein. MATERIALS and METHODS We used Stable Isotope Standards and Capture by Anti-Peptide Antibodies (SISCAPA) technology to enrich and quantify proteotypic peptides of the N protein from trypsin-digested samples from COVID-19 patients. RESULTS The Cov 2 MS assay was shown to be compatible with a variety of sample matrices including nasopharyngeal swabs, saliva and blood plasma and increased the sensitivity into the attomole range, up to a 1000-fold increase compared to direct detection in matrix. In addition, a strong positive correlation was observed between the SISCAPA antigen assay and qPCR detection beyond a quantification cycle (Cq) of 30-31, the level where no live virus can be cultured from patients. The automatable “addition only” sample preparation, digestion protocol, peptide enrichment and subsequent reduced dependency upon LC allow analysis of up to 500 samples per day per MS instrument. Importantly, peptide enrichment allowed detection of N protein in a pooled sample containing a single PCR positive sample mixed with 31 PCR negative samples, without loss in sensitivity. MS can easily be multiplexed and we also propose target peptides for Influenza A and B virus detection. CONCLUSIONS The Cov 2 MS assay described is agnostic with respect to the sample matrix or pooling strategy used for increasing throughput and can be easily multiplexed. Additionally, the assay eliminates interferences due to protein-protein interactions including those caused by anti-virus antibodies. The assay can be adapted to test for many different pathogens and could provide a tool enabling longitudinal epidemiological monitoring of large numbers of pathogens within a population, applied as an early warning system.

2.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295926

ABSTRACT

We have identified camelid single-domain antibodies (VHHs) that cross-neutralize SARS-CoV-1 and −2, such as VHH72, which binds to a unique highly conserved epitope in the viral receptor-binding domain (RBD) that is difficult to access for human antibodies. Here, we establish a protein engineering path for how a stable, long-acting drug candidate can be generated out of such a VHH building block. When fused to human IgG1-Fc, the prototype VHH72 molecule prophylactically protects hamsters from SARS-CoV-2. In addition, we demonstrate that both systemic and intranasal application protects hACE-2-transgenic mice from SARS-CoV-2 induced lethal disease progression. To boost potency of the lead, we used structure-guided molecular modeling combined with rapid yeast-based Fc-fusion prototyping, resulting in the affinity-matured VHH72_S56A-Fc, with subnanomolar SARS-CoV-1 and −2 neutralizing potency. Upon humanization, VHH72_S56A was fused to a human IgG1 Fc with optimized manufacturing homogeneity and silenced effector functions for enhanced safety, and its stability as well as lack of off-target binding was extensively characterized. Therapeutic systemic administration of a low dose of VHH72_S56A-Fc antibodies strongly restricted replication of both original and D614G mutant variants of SARS-CoV-2 virus in hamsters, and minimized the development of lung damage. This work led to the selection of XVR011 for clinical development, a highly stable anti-COVID-19 biologic with excellent manufacturability. Additionally, we show that XVR011 is unaffected in its neutralizing capacity of currently rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2 variants, and demonstrate its unique, wide scope of binding across the Sarbecovirus clades.

3.
Front Microbiol ; 12: 747458, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1497101

ABSTRACT

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2, constitutes a tremendous global health issue. Continuous monitoring of the virus has become a cornerstone to make rational decisions on implementing societal and sanitary measures to curtail the virus spread. Additionally, emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants have increased the need for genomic surveillance to detect particular strains because of their potentially increased transmissibility, pathogenicity and immune escape. Targeted SARS-CoV-2 sequencing of diagnostic and wastewater samples has been explored as an epidemiological surveillance method for the competent authorities. Currently, only the consensus genome sequence of the most abundant strain is taken into consideration for analysis, but multiple variant strains are now circulating in the population. Consequently, in diagnostic samples, potential co-infection(s) by several different variants can occur or quasispecies can develop during an infection in an individual. In wastewater samples, multiple variant strains will often be simultaneously present. Currently, quality criteria are mainly available for constructing the consensus genome sequence, and some guidelines exist for the detection of co-infections and quasispecies in diagnostic samples. The performance of detection and quantification of low-frequency variants using whole genome sequencing (WGS) of SARS-CoV-2 remains largely unknown. Here, we evaluated the detection and quantification of mutations present at low abundances using the mutations defining the SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 (alpha variant) as a case study. Real sequencing data were in silico modified by introducing mutations of interest into raw wild-type sequencing data, or by mixing wild-type and mutant raw sequencing data, to construct mixed samples subjected to WGS using a tiling amplicon-based targeted metagenomics approach and Illumina sequencing. As anticipated, higher variation and lower sensitivity were observed at lower coverages and allelic frequencies. We found that detection of all low-frequency variants at an abundance of 10, 5, 3, and 1%, requires at least a sequencing coverage of 250, 500, 1500, and 10,000×, respectively. Although increasing variability of estimated allelic frequencies at decreasing coverages and lower allelic frequencies was observed, its impact on reliable quantification was limited. This study provides a highly sensitive low-frequency variant detection approach, which is publicly available at https://galaxy.sciensano.be, and specific recommendations for minimum sequencing coverages to detect clade-defining mutations at certain allelic frequencies. This approach will be useful to detect and quantify low-frequency variants in both diagnostic (e.g., co-infections and quasispecies) and wastewater [e.g., multiple variants of concern (VOCs)] samples.

5.
Science ; 371(6530): 681-682, 2021 02 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1091001
6.
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 5838, 2020 11 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-933686

ABSTRACT

Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID-19 has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. In search for key targets of effective therapeutics, robust animal models mimicking COVID-19 in humans are urgently needed. Here, we show that Syrian hamsters, in contrast to mice, are highly permissive to SARS-CoV-2 and develop bronchopneumonia and strong inflammatory responses in the lungs with neutrophil infiltration and edema, further confirmed as consolidations visualized by micro-CT alike in clinical practice. Moreover, we identify an exuberant innate immune response as key player in pathogenesis, in which STAT2 signaling plays a dual role, driving severe lung injury on the one hand, yet restricting systemic virus dissemination on the other. Our results reveal the importance of STAT2-dependent interferon responses in the pathogenesis and virus control during SARS-CoV-2 infection and may help rationalizing new strategies for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/physiology , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Disease Models, Animal , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , STAT2 Transcription Factor/metabolism , Signal Transduction , Animals , Betacoronavirus/pathogenicity , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Cricetinae , Immunity, Innate , Interferon Type I/genetics , Interferon Type I/metabolism , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Mice , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , STAT2 Transcription Factor/genetics , Virus Replication
7.
Cell ; 181(5): 1004-1015.e15, 2020 05 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-88549

ABSTRACT

Coronaviruses make use of a large envelope protein called spike (S) to engage host cell receptors and catalyze membrane fusion. Because of the vital role that these S proteins play, they represent a vulnerable target for the development of therapeutics. Here, we describe the isolation of single-domain antibodies (VHHs) from a llama immunized with prefusion-stabilized coronavirus spikes. These VHHs neutralize MERS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1 S pseudotyped viruses, respectively. Crystal structures of these VHHs bound to their respective viral targets reveal two distinct epitopes, but both VHHs interfere with receptor binding. We also show cross-reactivity between the SARS-CoV-1 S-directed VHH and SARS-CoV-2 S and demonstrate that this cross-reactive VHH neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 S pseudotyped viruses as a bivalent human IgG Fc-fusion. These data provide a molecular basis for the neutralization of pathogenic betacoronaviruses by VHHs and suggest that these molecules may serve as useful therapeutics during coronavirus outbreaks.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/isolation & purification , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies/isolation & purification , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/chemistry , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19 , Camelids, New World/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Cross Reactions , Immunoglobulin G/chemistry , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Models, Molecular , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Protein Domains , Receptors, Virus/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2 , Single-Domain Antibodies/chemistry , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
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