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mSphere ; 6(4): e0057121, 2021 08 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1329040


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is ongoing and has shown the community that flexible methods for rapidly identifying and screening candidate antivirals are needed. Assessing virus-neutralizing activity of human serum to monitor population immunity and response to infection and vaccination is key to pandemic control. We developed a virus neutralization platform strategy that relies only on bioinformatic and genetic information of the virus of interest. The platform uses viral envelope glycoprotein cDNAs to set up an assay that mimics multicycle infection but is safe and, therefore, amenable to biosafety level 2 (BSL2) conditions for viruses that require BSL3 facilities (e.g., SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2). As a complement to this platform, we present a new cell-based immunofluorescent (CBI) assay that uses SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (S)-expressing cells to accurately measure the neutralization potential of human sera and is readily adaptable to variants of concern. These methods should be useful additions to the tools for assessing antiviral immunity, whether acquired via natural infection or vaccines. IMPORTANCE Assays for rapid biosafety level 2 (BSL2) evaluation of neutralizing properties of antibodies acquired via natural infection or through vaccination is urgently needed. Here, we propose a combinatorial approach in which sera are screened for SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (S) binding using a cell-based immunofluorescent (CBI) assay, and positive samples are further evaluated in a pseudotyped viral multicycle infection-mimicking protocol under BSL2 conditions.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antiviral Agents/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Neutralization Tests/methods , Pandemics/prevention & control , Vero Cells
Front Cardiovasc Med ; 7: 618651, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1058410


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus requires reliable assays for studying viral entry mechanisms which remains poorly understood. This knowledge is important for the development of therapeutic approaches to control SARS-CoV-2 infection by permitting the screening for neutralizing antibodies and other agents that can block infection. This is particularly important for patients who are at high risk for severe outcomes related to COVID-19. The production of pseudotyped viral particles may seem like a daunting task for a non-virology laboratory without experience in the two most commonly used pseudotyping systems, namely retro/lentiviruses and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) which lacks the VSV envelope glycoprotein (VSVΔG). By incorporating the most up-to-date knowledge, we have developed a detailed, easy-to-follow novel protocol for producing SARS-CoV-2 spike-bearing pseudovirus using the VSV-ΔG system. We describe the infection assay which uses GFP fluorescence as a measure of infection in a 24-well live imaging system. We present results of our optimization of the system to enhance viral infection levels through the over-expression of human ACE2 receptor and the overexpression of at least one of two proteases - TMPRSS2 or Furin, as well as, supplementation with Poloxamer 407 (P407) and Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) as adjuvants. We show that the system works efficiently in three unrelated, clinically relevant cell lines: human 293T (renal epithelial) cells, human Calu-3 (lung epithelial) cells, and the non-human primate (African Green Monkey) cell line, Vero-E6 (renal epithelial) cells. In addition, we have used this system to show infection of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPS-CMs). This system is efficient (virus generation, titration, and infection assays can be performed in 1 week), quantitative, inexpensive, and readily scalable for application in drug development and therapeutic screening approaches.

JCI Insight ; 5(18)2020 09 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-717440


Evaluation of potential immunity against the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus that emerged in 2019 (SARS-CoV-2) is essential for health, as well as social and economic recovery. Generation of antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 (seroconversion) may inform on acquired immunity from prior exposure, and antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor binding domain (S-RBD) are speculated to neutralize virus infection. Some serology assays rely solely on SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein (N-protein) as the antibody detection antigen; however, whether such immune responses correlate with S-RBD response and COVID-19 immunity remains unknown. Here, we generated a quantitative serological ELISA using recombinant S-RBD and N-protein for the detection of circulating antibodies in 138 serial serum samples from 30 reverse transcription PCR-confirmed, SARS-CoV-2-hospitalized patients, as well as 464 healthy and non-COVID-19 serum samples that were collected between June 2017 and June 2020. Quantitative detection of IgG antibodies against the 2 different viral proteins showed a moderate correlation. Antibodies against N-protein were detected at a rate of 3.6% in healthy and non-COVID-19 sera collected during the pandemic in 2020, whereas 1.9% of these sera were positive for S-RBD. Approximately 86% of individuals positive for S-RBD-binding antibodies exhibited neutralizing capacity, but only 74% of N-protein-positive individuals exhibited neutralizing capacity. Collectively, our studies show that detection of N-protein-binding antibodies does not always correlate with presence of S-RBD-neutralizing antibodies and caution against the extensive use of N-protein-based serology testing for determination of potential COVID-19 immunity.

Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Betacoronavirus/physiology , Coronavirus Infections , Nucleocapsid/immunology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Adaptive Immunity/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/analysis , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/analysis , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Outcome Assessment, Health Care , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity , Seroconversion , Serologic Tests/methods