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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.10.10.511541


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) remains an important health threat. Syncytial formation by infected cells mediated by the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (SARS-2-S) is a hallmark of COVID-19-associated pathology. Although SARS-CoV-2 infection evokes cellular senescence, as in other viruses, the direct link between SARS-2-S-induced syncytia with senescence in the absence of viral infection and their senescence fate determinants remain unknown. Here, we show that syncytia formed by cells expressing exogenously delivered SARS-2-S exhibited a senescence-like phenotype in vitro and that SARS-2-S mRNA induced senescence phenotype in vivo. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) containing SARS-2-S also induced senescent syncytium formation independent of the de novo synthesis of SARS-2-S. Mechanistically, we show that the accumulation of endogenous dsRNA, partially that whose formation is induced by activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR), in SARS-2-S syncytia triggers RIG-I-MAVS signalling to drive the TNF-α-dependent survival and senescence fate of SARS-2-S syncytia. Our findings suggest that the fusogenic ability of SARS-2-S might contribute to the side effects of particular COVID-19 vaccines or perhaps long COVID-19 syndrome and provide insight into how these effects can be prevented.

Coronavirus Infections , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , COVID-19
medrxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.03.08.22271816


The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant around the world and exhibits immune escape to current COVID-19 vaccines to some extent due to its numerous spike mutations. Here, we evaluated the immune responses to booster vaccination with intramuscular adenovirus-vectored vaccine (Ad5-nCoV), aerosolized Ad5-nCoV, a recombinant protein subunit vaccine (ZF2001) or homologous inactivated vaccine (CoronaVac) in those who received two doses of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines 6 months prior. We found that the Ad5-nCoV booster induced potent neutralizing activity against the wild-type virus and Omicron variant, while aerosolized Ad5-nCoV generated the greatest neutralizing antibody responses against the Omicron variant at day 28 after booster vaccination, at 14.1-fold that of CoronaVac, 5.6-fold that of ZF2001 and 2.0-fold that of intramuscular Ad5-nCoV. Similarly, the aerosolized Ad5-nCoV booster produced the greatest IFNgamma T-cell response at day 14 after booster vaccination. The IFNgamma T-cell response to aerosolized Ad5-nCoV was 12.8-fold for CoronaVac, 16.5-fold for ZF2001, and 5.0-fold for intramuscular Ad5-nCoV. Aerosolized Ad5-nCoV booster also produced the greatest spike-specific B cell response. Our findings suggest that inactivated vaccine recipients should consider adenovirus-vectored vaccine boosters in China and that aerosolized Ad5-nCoV may provide a more efficient alternative in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

researchsquare; 2020.


The unprecedented coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic has created a worldwide public health emergency, and there is an urgent need to develop an effective vaccine to control this severe infectious disease. Here, we found that a single vaccination with a replication-defective human type 5 adenovirus encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (Ad5-nCoV) protected mice completely against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Additionally, a single vaccination with Ad5-nCoV protected ferrets from SARS-CoV-2 infection in the upper respiratory tract. This study suggested that a combination of intramuscular and mucosal vaccination maybe provide a desirable protective efficacy and different Ad5-nCoV delivery modes are worth further investigation in human clinical trials.

Communicable Diseases , COVID-19
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.05.24.20101238


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused over 220,000 deaths so far and is still an ongoing global health problem. However, the immunopathological changes of key types of immune cells during and after virus infection remain unclear. Here, we enriched CD3+ and CD19+ lymphocytes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of COVID-19 patients (severe patients and recovered patients at early or late stages) and healthy people (SARS-CoV-2 negative) and revealed transcriptional profiles and changes in these lymphocytes by comprehensive single-cell transcriptome and V(D)J recombination analyses. We found that although the T lymphocytes were decreased in the blood of patients with virus infection, the remaining T cells still highly expressed inflammatory genes and persisted for a while after recovery in patients. We also observed the potential transition from effector CD8 T cells to central memory T cells in recovered patients at the late stage. Among B lymphocytes, we analyzed the expansion trajectory of a subtype of plasma cells in severe COVID-19 patients and traced the source as atypical memory B cells (AMBCs). Additional BCR and TCR analyses revealed a high level of clonal expansion in patients with severe COVID-19, especially of B lymphocytes, and the clonally expanded B cells highly expressed genes related to inflammatory responses and lymphocyte activation. V-J gene usage and clonal types of higher frequency in COVID-19 patients were also summarized. Taken together, our results provide crucial insights into the immune response against patients with severe COVID-19 and recovered patients and valuable information for the development of vaccines and therapeutic strategies.

COVID-19 , Tumor Virus Infections
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.05.08.083964


The pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) presents a global public health threat. Most research on therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 focused on the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the Spike (S) protein, whereas the vulnerable epitopes and functional mechanism of non-RBD regions are poorly understood. Here we isolated and characterized monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) derived from convalescent COVID-19 patients. An mAb targeting the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein, named 4A8, exhibits high neutralization potency against both authentic and pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2, although it does not block the interaction between angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor and S protein. The cryo-EM structure of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein in complex with 4A8 has been determined to an overall resolution of 3.1 Angstrom and local resolution of 3.4 Angstrom for the 4A8-NTD interface, revealing detailed interactions between the NTD and 4A8. Our functional and structural characterizations discover a new vulnerable epitope of the S protein and identify promising neutralizing mAbs as potential clinical therapy for COVID-19.