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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 119(31): e2205412119, 2022 08 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1947766


Camelid single-domain antibodies, also known as nanobodies, can be readily isolated from naïve libraries for specific targets but often bind too weakly to their targets to be immediately useful. Laboratory-based genetic engineering methods to enhance their affinity, termed maturation, can deliver useful reagents for different areas of biology and potentially medicine. Using the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein and a naïve library, we generated closely related nanobodies with micromolar to nanomolar binding affinities. By analyzing the structure-activity relationship using X-ray crystallography, cryoelectron microscopy, and biophysical methods, we observed that higher conformational entropy losses in the formation of the spike protein-nanobody complex are associated with tighter binding. To investigate this, we generated structural ensembles of the different complexes from electron microscopy maps and correlated the conformational fluctuations with binding affinity. This insight guided the engineering of a nanobody with improved affinity for the spike protein.

Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Antibody Affinity , SARS-CoV-2 , Single-Domain Antibodies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Antibodies, Neutralizing/chemistry , Antibodies, Neutralizing/genetics , Antibodies, Viral/chemistry , Antibodies, Viral/genetics , Antibody Affinity/genetics , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Entropy , Genetic Engineering , Humans , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies/chemistry , Single-Domain Antibodies/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5469, 2021 09 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1434103


SARS-CoV-2 remains a global threat to human health particularly as escape mutants emerge. There is an unmet need for effective treatments against COVID-19 for which neutralizing single domain antibodies (nanobodies) have significant potential. Their small size and stability mean that nanobodies are compatible with respiratory administration. We report four nanobodies (C5, H3, C1, F2) engineered as homotrimers with pmolar affinity for the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Crystal structures show C5 and H3 overlap the ACE2 epitope, whilst C1 and F2 bind to a different epitope. Cryo Electron Microscopy shows C5 binding results in an all down arrangement of the Spike protein. C1, H3 and C5 all neutralize the Victoria strain, and the highly transmissible Alpha (B.1.1.7 first identified in Kent, UK) strain and C1 also neutralizes the Beta (B.1.35, first identified in South Africa). Administration of C5-trimer via the respiratory route showed potent therapeutic efficacy in the Syrian hamster model of COVID-19 and separately, effective prophylaxis. The molecule was similarly potent by intraperitoneal injection.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , COVID-19 Drug Treatment , Single-Domain Antibodies/pharmacology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Administration, Intranasal , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/genetics , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Crystallography, X-Ray , Disease Models, Animal , Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/metabolism , Female , Male , Mesocricetus , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Single-Domain Antibodies/administration & dosage , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
Nat Struct Mol Biol ; 27(9): 846-854, 2020 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-653285


The SARS-CoV-2 virus is more transmissible than previous coronaviruses and causes a more serious illness than influenza. The SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein binds to the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor as a prelude to viral entry into the cell. Using a naive llama single-domain antibody library and PCR-based maturation, we have produced two closely related nanobodies, H11-D4 and H11-H4, that bind RBD (KD of 39 and 12 nM, respectively) and block its interaction with ACE2. Single-particle cryo-EM revealed that both nanobodies bind to all three RBDs in the spike trimer. Crystal structures of each nanobody-RBD complex revealed how both nanobodies recognize the same epitope, which partly overlaps with the ACE2 binding surface, explaining the blocking of the RBD-ACE2 interaction. Nanobody-Fc fusions showed neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 (4-6 nM for H11-H4, 18 nM for H11-D4) and additive neutralization with the SARS-CoV-1/2 antibody CR3022.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Coronavirus Infections , Pandemics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Neutralizing/ultrastructure , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/ultrastructure , Antibody Affinity , Antigen-Antibody Reactions/immunology , Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Binding, Competitive , COVID-19 , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Crystallography, X-Ray , Epitopes/immunology , Humans , Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments/genetics , Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments/immunology , Models, Molecular , Peptide Library , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/ultrastructure , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Receptors, Virus/ultrastructure , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/immunology , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Homology, Amino Acid , Single-Domain Antibodies/metabolism , Single-Domain Antibodies/ultrastructure , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/ultrastructure