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Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-215236


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2, which is mediated by the viral spike protein and host ACE2 receptor, is an essential target for the development of vaccines, therapeutic antibodies, and drugs. Using a mammalian cell expression system, we generated a recombinant fluorescent protein (Gamillus)-fused SARS-CoV-2 spike trimer (STG) to probe the viral entry process. In ACE2-expressing cells, we found that the STG probe has excellent performance in the live-cell visualization of receptor binding, cellular uptake, and intracellular trafficking of SARS-CoV-2 under virus-free conditions. The new system allows quantitative analyses of the inhibition potentials and detailed influence of COVID-19-convalescent human plasmas, neutralizing antibodies and compounds, providing a versatile tool for high-throughput screening and phenotypic characterization of SARS-CoV-2 entry inhibitors. This approach may also be adapted to develop a viral entry visualization system for other viruses.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-029934


A novel coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2) emerged in late 2019, causing an outbreak of pneumonia [coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)] in Wuhan, China, which then rapidly spread globally. Although the use of ready-made reaction mixes can enable more rapid PCR-based diagnosis of COVID-19, the need to transport and store these mixes at low temperatures presents challenges to already overburdened logistics networks. Here, we present an optimized freeze-drying procedure that allows SARS-CoV-2 PCR mixes to be transported and stored at ambient temperatures, without loss of activity. Additive-supplemented PCR mixes were freeze-dried. The residual moisture of the freeze-dried PCR mixes was measured by Karl-Fischer titration. We found that freeze-dried PCR mixes with [~]1.2% residual moisture are optimal for storage, transport, and reconstitution. The sensitivity, specificity, and repeatability of the freeze-dried reagents were similar to those of freshly prepared, wet reagents. The freeze-dried mixes retained activity at room temperature (18[~]25{degrees}C) for 28 days, and for 14 and 10 days when stored at 37{degrees}C and 56{degrees}C, respectively. The uptake of this approach will ease logistical challenges faced by transport networks and make more cold storage space available at diagnosis and hospital laboratories. This method can also be applied to the generation of freeze-dried PCR mixes for the detection of other pathogens.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-026948


The global pandemic of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disaster for human society. A convenient and reliable in vitro neutralization assay is very important for the development of neutralizing antibodies, vaccines and other inhibitors. In this study, G protein-deficient vesicular stomatitis virus (VSVdG) bearing full-length and truncated spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 were evaluated. The virus packaging efficiency of VSV-SARS-CoV-2-Sdel18 (S with C-terminal 18 amino acid truncation) is much higher than VSV-SARS-CoV-2-S. A neutralization assay for antibody screening and serum neutralizing titer quantification was established based on VSV-SARS-CoV-2-Sdel18 pseudovirus and human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) overexpressed BHK21 cell (BHK21-hACE2). The experimental results can be obtained by automatically counting EGFP positive cell number at 12 hours after infection, making the assay convenient and high-throughput. The serum neutralizing titer of COVID-19 convalescent patients measured by VSV-SARS-CoV-2-Sdel18 pseudovirus assay has a good correlation with live SARS-CoV-2 assay. Seven neutralizing monoclonal antibodies targeting receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2-S were obtained. This efficient and reliable pseudovirus assay model could facilitate the development of new drugs and vaccines.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20041707


BackgroundTimely diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection is the prerequisite for treatment and preventive quarantine. The serology characteristics and complement diagnosis value of antibody test to RNA test needs to be demonstrated. MethodA patient cohort study was conducted at the first affiliated hospital of Zhejiang University, China. Serial plasma of COVID-19 patients and were collected and total antibody (Ab), IgM and IgG antibody against SARS-CoV-2 were detected. The antibody dynamics during the infection were described. ResultsThe seroconversion rate for Ab, IgM and IgG in COVID-19 patients was 98.8% (79/80), 93.8% (75/80) and 93.8% (75/80), respectively. The first detectible serology marker is total antibody and followed by IgM and IgG, with a median seroconversion time of 15, 18 and 20 day post exposure (d.p.e) or 9, 10 and 12 days post onset, separately. The antibody levels increased rapidly since 6 d.p.o and accompanied with the decline of viral load. For patients in the early stage of illness (0-7d.p.o),Ab showed the highest sensitivity (64.1%) compared to the IgM and IgG (33.3% for both, p<0.001). The sensitivities of Ab, IgM and IgG detection increased to 100%, 96.7% and 93.3% two weeks later, respectively. ConclusionsTypical acute antibody response is induced during the SARS-CoV-2 infection. The serology testing provides important complementation to RNA test for pathogenic specific diagnosis and helpful information to evaluate the adapted immunity status of patient. It should be strongly recommended to apply well-validated antibody tests in the clinical management and public health practice to improve the control of COVID-19 infection. Take-Home MessageAntibody responses are induced after SARS-CoV-2 infection and complement diagnosis value of antibody test to RNA test was observed. Antibody tests are critical tools in clinical management and control of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20030189


BackgroundThe novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is a newly emerging virus. The antibody response in infected patient remains largely unknown, and the clinical values of antibody testing have not been fully demonstrated. MethodsA total of 173 patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were enrolled. Their serial plasma samples (n = 535) collected during the hospitalization period were tested for total antibodies (Ab), IgM and IgG against SARS-CoV-2 using immunoassays. The dynamics of antibodies with the progress and severity of disease was analyzed. ResultsAmong 173 patients, the seroconversion rate for Ab, IgM and IgG was 93.1% (161/173), 82.7% (143/173) and 64.7% (112/173), respectively. Twelve patients who had not seroconverted were those only blood samples at the early stage of illness were collected. The seroconversion sequentially appeared for Ab, IgM and then IgG, with a median time of 11, 12 and 14 days, respectively. The presence of antibodies was < 40% among patients in the first 7 days of illness, and then rapidly increased to 100.0%, 94.3% and 79.8% for Ab, IgM and IgG respectively since day 15 after onset. In contrast, the positive rate of RNA decreased from 66.7% (58/87) in samples collected before day 7 to 45.5% (25/55) during days 15 to 39. Combining RNA and antibody detections significantly improved the sensitivity of pathogenic diagnosis for COVID-19 patients (p < 0.001), even in early phase of 1-week since onset (p = 0.007). Moreover, a higher titer of Ab was independently associated with a worse clinical classification (p = 0.006). ConclusionsThe antibody detection offers vital clinical information during the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The findings provide strong empirical support for the routine application of serological testing in the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 patients.