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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.01.21.477288


The SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) E406W mutation abrogates neutralization mediated by the REGEN-CoV therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) COVID-19 cocktail and the cilgavimab (AZD1061) mAb. Here, we show that this residue substitution remodels the ACE2-binding site allosterically, thereby dampening receptor recognition severely and altering the epitopes recognized by these three mAbs. Although vaccine-elicited neutralizing antibody titers are decreased similarly against the E406 mutant and the Delta or Epsilon variants, broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus mAbs, including a clinical mAb, inhibit the E406W spike mutant.

biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.19.473391


Numerous safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have been developed that utilize various delivery technologies and engineering strategies. The influence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein conformation on antibody responses induced by vaccination or infection in humans remains unknown. To address this question, we compared plasma antibodies elicited by six globally-distributed vaccines or infection and observed markedly higher binding titers for vaccines encoding a prefusion-stabilized S relative to other groups. Prefusion S binding titers positively correlated with plasma neutralizing activity, indicating that physical stabilization of the prefusion conformation enhances protection against SARS-CoV-2. We show that almost all plasma neutralizing activity is directed to prefusion S, in particular the S1 subunit, and that variant cross-neutralization is mediated solely by RBD-specific antibodies. Our data provide a quantitative framework for guiding future S engineering efforts to develop vaccines with higher resilience to the emergence of variants and longer durability than current technologies.

COVID-19 , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.31.437925


SARS-CoV-2 entry is mediated by the spike (S) glycoprotein which contains the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the N-terminal domain (NTD) as the two main targets of neutralizing antibodies (Abs). A novel variant of concern (VOC) named CAL.20C (B.1.427/B.1.429) was originally detected in California and is currently spreading throughout the US and 29 additional countries. It is unclear whether antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection or to the prototypic Wuhan-1 isolate-based vaccines will be impacted by the three B.1.427/B.1.429 S mutations: S13I, W152C and L452R. Here, we assessed neutralizing Ab responses following natural infection or mRNA vaccination using pseudoviruses expressing the wildtype or the B.1.427/B.1.429 S protein. Plasma from vaccinated or convalescent individuals exhibited neutralizing titers, which were reduced 3-6 fold against the B.1.427/B.1.429 variant relative to wildtype pseudoviruses. The RBD L452R mutation reduced or abolished neutralizing activity of 14 out of 35 RBD-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), including three clinical-stage mAbs. Furthermore, we observed a complete loss of B.1.427/B.1.429 neutralization for a panel of mAbs targeting the N-terminal domain due to a large structural rearrangement of the NTD antigenic supersite involving an S13I-mediated shift of the signal peptide cleavage site. These data warrant closer monitoring of signal peptide variants and their involvement in immune evasion and show that Abs directed to the NTD impose a selection pressure driving SARS-CoV-2 viral evolution through conventional and unconventional escape mechanisms.

COVID-19 , Encephalitis, California