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1.
Nature ; 2022 Jun 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1900499

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron sublineages BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 exhibit higher transmissibility than the BA.2 lineage1. The receptor binding and immune-evasion capability of these recently emerged variants require immediate investigation. Here, coupled with structural comparisons of the spike proteins, we show that BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 (BA.4 and BA.5 are hereafter referred collectively to as BA.4/BA.5) exhibit similar binding affinities to BA.2 for the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Of note, BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5 display increased evasion of neutralizing antibodies compared with BA.2 against plasma from triple-vaccinated individuals or from individuals who developed a BA.1 infection after vaccination. To delineate the underlying antibody-evasion mechanism, we determined the escape mutation profiles2, epitope distribution3 and Omicron-neutralization efficiency of 1,640 neutralizing antibodies directed against the receptor-binding domain of the viral spike protein, including 614 antibodies isolated from people who had recovered from BA.1 infection. BA.1 infection after vaccination predominantly recalls humoral immune memory directed against ancestral (hereafter referred to as wild-type (WT)) SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The resulting elicited antibodies could neutralize both WT SARS-CoV-2 and BA.1 and are enriched on epitopes on spike that do not bind ACE2. However, most of these cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies are evaded by spike mutants L452Q, L452R and F486V. BA.1 infection can also induce new clones of BA.1-specific antibodies that potently neutralize BA.1. Nevertheless, these neutralizing antibodies are largely evaded by BA.2 and BA.4/BA.5 owing to D405N and F486V mutations, and react weakly to pre-Omicron variants, exhibiting narrow neutralization breadths. The therapeutic neutralizing antibodies bebtelovimab4 and cilgavimab5 can effectively neutralize BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5, whereas the S371F, D405N and R408S mutations undermine most broadly sarbecovirus-neutralizing antibodies. Together, our results indicate that Omicron may evolve mutations to evade the humoral immunity elicited by BA.1 infection, suggesting that BA.1-derived vaccine boosters may not achieve broad-spectrum protection against new Omicron variants.

2.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(5)2022 May 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1855848

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a public health crisis over the last two years. Monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based therapeutics against the spike (S) protein have been shown to be effective treatments for SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially the original viral strain. However, the current mAbs produced in mammalian cells are expensive and might be unaffordable for many. Furthermore, the emergence of variants of concern demands the development of strategies to prevent mutant escape from mAb treatment. Using a cocktail of mAbs that bind to complementary neutralizing epitopes is one such strategy. In this study, we use Nicotiana benthamiana plants in an effort to expedite the development of efficacious and affordable antibody cocktails against SARS-CoV-2. We show that two mAbs can be highly expressed in plants and are correctly assembled into IgG molecules. Moreover, they retain target epitope recognition and, more importantly, neutralize multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. We also show that one plant-made mAb has neutralizing synergy with other mAbs that we developed in hybridomas. This is the first report of a plant-made mAb to be assessed as a potential component of a SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing cocktail. This work may offer a strategy for using plants to quickly develop mAb cocktail-based therapeutics against emerging viral diseases with high efficacy and low costs.

3.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335494

ABSTRACT

Recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron sublineages BA.2.12.1, BA.2.13, BA.4 and BA.5 all contain L452 mutations and show potential higher transmissibility over BA.2. The new variants’ receptor binding and immune evasion capability require immediate investigation, especially on the role of L452 substitutions. Herein, coupled with structural comparisons, we showed that BA.2 sublineages, including BA.2.12.1 and BA.2.13, exhibit increased ACE2-binding affinities compared to BA.1;while BA.4/BA.5 shows the weakest receptor-binding activity due to F486V and R493Q reversion. Importantly, compared to BA.2, BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5 exhibit stronger neutralization escape from the plasma of 3-dose vaccinees and, most strikingly, from vaccinated BA.1 convalescents. To delineate the underlying evasion mechanism, we determined the escaping mutation profiles, epitope distribution and Omicron sub-lineage neutralization efficacy of 1640 RBD-directed neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), including 614 isolated from BA.1 convalescents. Interestingly, post-vaccination BA.1 infection mainly recalls wildtype-induced humoral memory and elicits antibodies that neutralize both wild-type and BA.1. These cross-reactive NAbs are significantly enriched on non-ACE2-competing epitopes;and surprisingly, the majority are undermined by R346 and L452 substitutions, namely R346K (BA.1.1), L452M (BA.2.13), L452Q (BA.2.12.1) and L452R (BA.4/BA.5), suggesting that R346K and L452 mutations appeared under the immune pressure of Omicron convalescents. Nevertheless, BA.1 infection can also induce new clones of BA.1-specific antibodies that potently neutralize BA.1 but do not respond to wild-type SARS-CoV-2, due to the high susceptibility to N501, N440, K417 and E484. However, these NAbs are largely escaped by BA.2 sublineages and BA.4/BA.5 due to D405N and F486V, exhibiting poor neutralization breadths. As for therapeutic NAbs, LY-CoV1404 (Bamlanivimab) and COV2-2130 (Cilgavimab) can still effectively neutralize BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5, while the S371F, D405N and R408S mutations carried by BA.2/BA.4/BA.5 sublineages would undermine most broad sarbecovirus NAbs. Together, our results indicate that Omicron can evolve mutations to specifically evade humoral immunity elicited by BA.1 infection. The continuous evolution of Omicron poses great challenges to SARS-CoV-2 herd immunity and suggests that BA.1-derived vaccine boosters may not be ideal for achieving broad-spectrum protection.

4.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335258

ABSTRACT

The recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 Omicron sublineages BA.2.12.1, BA.2.13, BA.4 and BA.5 all contain L452 mutations and show potential higher transmissibility over BA.2 1 . The new variants’ receptor binding and immune evasion capability require immediate investigation, especially on the role of L452 substitutions. Herein, coupled with structural comparisons, we show that BA.2 sublineages, including BA.2.12.1 and BA.2.13, exhibit increased ACE2-binding affinities compared to BA.1;while BA.4/BA.5 displays the weakest receptor-binding activity due to F486V and R493Q reversion. Importantly, compared to BA.2, BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5 exhibit stronger neutralization evasion against the plasma of 3-dose vaccinees and, most strikingly, of vaccinated BA.1 convalescents. To delineate the underlying evasion mechanism, we determined the escaping mutation profiles 2 , epitope distribution 3 and Omicron sublineage neutralization efficacy of 1640 RBD-directed neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), including 614 isolated from BA.1 convalescents. Interestingly, post-vaccination BA.1 infection mainly recalls wildtype (WT) induced humoral memory and elicits antibodies that neutralize both WT and BA.1. These cross-reactive NAbs are significantly enriched on non-ACE2-competing epitopes;and surprisingly, the majority are undermined by R346 and L452 substitutions, namely R346K (BA.1.1), L452M (BA.2.13), L452Q (BA.2.12.1) and L452R (BA.4/BA.5), suggesting that R346K and L452 mutations appeared under the immune pressure induced by Omicron convalescents. Nevertheless, BA.1 infection can also induce new clones of BA.1-specific antibodies that potently neutralize BA.1 but do not respond to WT SARS-CoV-2 due to the high susceptibility to N501, N440, K417 and E484. However, these NAbs are largely escaped by BA.2 sublineages and BA.4/BA.5 due to D405N and F486V, exhibiting poor neutralization breadths. As for therapeutic NAbs, LY-CoV1404 (Bebtelovimab 4 ) and COV2-2130 (Cilgavimab 5 ) can still effectively neutralize BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5, while the S371F, D405N and R408S mutations carried by BA.2/BA.4/BA.5 sublineages would undermine most broad sarbecovirus NAbs. Together, our results indicate that Omicron can evolve mutations to specifically evade humoral immunity elicited by BA.1 infection. The continuous evolution of Omicron poses great challenges to SARS-CoV-2 herd immunity and suggests that BA.1-derived vaccine boosters may not be ideal for achieving broad-spectrum protection.

5.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327486

ABSTRACT

Constantly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, such as Omicron BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2, pose a severe challenge to COVID-19 control 1–10 . Broad-spectrum antibody therapeutics and vaccines are needed for defending against future SARS-CoV-2 variants and sarbecovirus pandemics 11–14 ;however, we have yet to gain a comprehensive understanding of the epitopes capable of inducing broad sarbecovirus neutralization. Here, we report the identification of 241 anti-RBD broad sarbecovirus neutralizing antibodies isolated from 44 SARS-CoV-2 vaccinated SARS convalescents. Neutralizing efficacy of these antibodies against D614G, SARS-CoV-1, Omicron variants (BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2), RATG13 and Pangolin-GD is tested, and their binding capability to 21 sarbecovirus RBDs is measured. High-throughput yeast-display mutational screening was further applied to determine each antibody’s RBD escaping mutation profile, and unsupervised epitope clustering based on escaping mutation hotspots was performed 7,15–18 . A total of 6 clusters of broad sarbecovirus neutralizing antibodies with diverse breadth and epitopes were identified, namely Group E1 (S309 19 , BD55-3152 site), E3 (S2H97 20 site), F1 (CR3022 21 , S304 22 site), F2 (DH1047 23 , BD55-3500 site), F3 (ADG-2 24 , BD55-3372 site) and B’ (S2K146 25 site). Members of E1, F2 and F3 demonstrate the highest neutralization potency;yet, Omicron, especially BA.2, has evolved multiple mutations (G339D, N440K, T376A, D405N, R408S) to escape antibodies of these groups. Nevertheless, broad sarbecovirus neutralizing antibodies that survived Omicron would serve as favorable therapeutic candidates. Furthermore, structural analyses of selected drug candidates propose two non-competing antibody pairing strategies, E1-F2 and E1-F3, as broad-spectrum antibody cocktails. Together, our work provides a comprehensive epitope map of broad sarbecovirus neutralizing antibodies and offers critical instructions for designing broad-spectrum vaccines.

6.
Nature ; 602(7898): 657-663, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616990

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant contains 15 mutations of the receptor-binding domain (RBD). How Omicron evades RBD-targeted neutralizing antibodies requires immediate investigation. Here we use high-throughput yeast display screening1,2 to determine the profiles of RBD escaping mutations for 247 human anti-RBD neutralizing antibodies and show that the neutralizing antibodies can be classified by unsupervised clustering into six epitope groups (A-F)-a grouping that is highly concordant with knowledge-based structural classifications3-5. Various single mutations of Omicron can impair neutralizing antibodies of different epitope groups. Specifically, neutralizing antibodies in groups A-D, the epitopes of which overlap with the ACE2-binding motif, are largely escaped by K417N, G446S, E484A and Q493R. Antibodies in group E (for example, S309)6 and group F (for example, CR3022)7, which often exhibit broad sarbecovirus neutralizing activity, are less affected by Omicron, but a subset of neutralizing antibodies are still escaped by G339D, N440K and S371L. Furthermore, Omicron pseudovirus neutralization showed that neutralizing antibodies that sustained single mutations could also be escaped, owing to multiple synergetic mutations on their epitopes. In total, over 85% of the tested neutralizing antibodies were escaped by Omicron. With regard to neutralizing-antibody-based drugs, the neutralization potency of LY-CoV016, LY-CoV555, REGN10933, REGN10987, AZD1061, AZD8895 and BRII-196 was greatly undermined by Omicron, whereas VIR-7831 and DXP-604 still functioned at a reduced efficacy. Together, our data suggest that infection with Omicron would result in considerable humoral immune evasion, and that neutralizing antibodies targeting the sarbecovirus conserved region will remain most effective. Our results inform the development of antibody-based drugs and vaccines against Omicron and future variants.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Immune Evasion/immunology , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Neutralizing/classification , Antibodies, Viral/classification , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Cells, Cultured , Convalescence , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/chemistry , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/immunology , Humans , Immune Sera/immunology , Models, Molecular , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
7.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-296579

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 variant (Omicron) contains 15 mutations on the receptor-binding domain (RBD). How Omicron would evade RBD neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) and humoral immunity requires immediate investigation. Here, we used high-throughput yeast display screening 1,2 to determine the RBD escaping mutation profiles for 247 human anti-RBD NAbs identified from SARS-CoV/SARS-CoV-2 convalescents and vaccinees. Based on the results, NAbs could be unsupervised clustered into six epitope groups (A-F), which is highly concordant with knowledge-based structural classifications 3–5 . Strikingly, various single mutations of Omicron could impair NAbs of different epitope groups. Specifically, NAbs in Group A-D, whose epitope overlaps with ACE2-binding motif, are largely escaped by K417N, N440K, G446S, E484A, Q493K, and G496S. Group E (S309 site) 6 and F (CR3022 site) 7 NAbs, which often exhibit broad sarbecovirus neutralizing activity, are less affected by Omicron, but still, a subset of NAbs are escaped by G339D, S371L, and S375F. Furthermore, B.1.1.529 pseudovirus neutralization and RBD binding assay showed that single mutation tolerating NAbs could also be escaped due to multiple synergetic mutations on their epitopes. In total, over 85% of the tested NAbs are escaped by Omicron. Regarding NAb drugs, LY-CoV016/LY-CoV555 cocktail, REGN-CoV2 cocktail, AZD1061/AZD8895 cocktail, and BRII-196 were escaped by Omicron, while VIR7831 and DXP-604 still function at reduced efficacy. Together, data suggest Omicron could cause significant humoral immune evasion, while NAbs targeting the sarbecovirus conserved region remain most effective. Our results offer instructions for developing NAb drugs and vaccines against Omicron and future variants.

8.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(11)2021 Nov 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1524234

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the current COVID-19 pandemic, has caused more than 4.5 million deaths worldwide. Severe and fatal cases of COVID-19 are often associated with increased proinflammatory cytokine levels including interleukin 6 (IL-6) and acute respiratory distress syndrome. In this study, we explored the feasibility of using plants to produce an anti-IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) monoclonal antibody (mAb) and examined its utility in reducing IL-6 signaling in an in vitro model, which simulates IL-6 induction during SARS-CoV-2 infection. The anti-IL6R mAb (IL6RmAb) was quickly expressed and correctly assembled in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. Plant-produced IL6RmAb (pIL6RmAb) could be enriched to homogeneity by a simple purification scheme. Furthermore, pIL6RmAb was shown to effectively inhibit IL-6 signaling in a cell-based model system. Notably, pIL6RmAb also suppressed IL-6 signaling that was induced by the exposure of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. This is the first report of a plant-made anti-IL-6R mAb and its activity against SARS-CoV-2-related cytokine signaling. This study demonstrates the capacity of plants for producing functionally active mAbs that block cytokine signaling and implies their potential efficacy to curb cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients.

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