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Cell Res ; 2022 Jul 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1967595


SARS-CoV-2 variants with adaptive mutations have continued to emerge, causing fresh waves of infection even amongst vaccinated population. The development of broad-spectrum antivirals is thus urgently needed. We previously developed two hetero-bivalent nanobodies (Nbs), aRBD-2-5 and aRBD-2-7, with potent neutralization activity against the wild-type (WT) Wuhan isolated SARS-CoV-2, by fusing aRBD-2 with aRBD-5 and aRBD-7, respectively. Here, we resolved the crystal structures of these Nbs in complex with the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein, and found that aRBD-2 contacts with highly-conserved RBD residues and retains binding to the RBD of the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Delta plus, Kappa, Lambda, Omicron BA.1, and BA.2 variants. In contrast, aRBD-5 and aRBD-7 bind to less-conserved RBD epitopes non-overlapping with the epitope of aRBD-2, and do not show apparent binding to the RBD of some variants. However, when fused with aRBD-2, they effectively enhance the overall binding affinity. Consistently, aRBD-2-5-Fc and aRBD-2-7-Fc potently neutralized all of the tested authentic or pseudotyped viruses, including WT, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2. Furthermore, aRBD-2-5-Fc provided prophylactic protection against the WT and mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 in mice, and conferred protection against the Omicron BA.1 variant in hamsters prophylactically and therapeutically, indicating that aRBD-2-5-Fc could potentially benefit the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 caused by the emerging variants of concern. Our strategy provides new solutions in the development of broad-spectrum therapeutic antibodies for COVID-19.

EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-336803


Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) can prevent and treat infections caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). However, continuously emerging variants, such as Omicron, have significantly reduced the potency of most known NAbs. The selection of NAbs with broad neutralizing activities and the identification of conserved critical epitopes are still urgently needed. Here, we identified an extremely potent antibody (55A8) by single B-cell sorting from convalescent SARS-CoV-2-infected patients that recognized the receptor-binding domain (RBD) in the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein. 55A8 could bind to wild-type SARS-CoV-2, Omicron BA.1 and Omicron BA.2 simultaneously with 58G6, a NAb previously identified by our group. Importantly, an antibody cocktail containing 55A8 and 58G6 (2-cocktail) showed synergetic neutralizing activity with a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC 50 ) in the picomolar range in vitro and prophylactic efficacy in hamsters challenged with Omicron (BA.1) through intranasal delivery at an extraordinarily low dosage (25 μg of each antibody daily) at 3 days post-infection. Structural analysis by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) revealed that 55A8 is a Class III NAb that recognizes a highly conserved epitope. It could block angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) binding to the RBD in the S protein trimer via steric hindrance. The epitopes in the RBD recognized by 55A8 and 58G6 were found to be different and complementary, which could explain the synergetic mechanism of these two NAbs. Our findings not only provide a potential antibody cocktail for clinical use against infection with current SARS-CoV-2 strains and future variants but also identify critical epitope information for the development of better antiviral agents.

Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 7(1): 139, 2022 04 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1815514


The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant shows substantial resistance to neutralization by infection- and vaccination-induced antibodies, highlighting the demands for research on the continuing discovery of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs). Here, we developed a panel of bnAbs against Omicron and other variants of concern (VOCs) elicited by vaccination of adenovirus-vectored COVID-19 vaccine (Ad5-nCoV). We also investigated the human longitudinal antibody responses following vaccination and demonstrated how the bnAbs evolved over time. A monoclonal antibody (mAb), named ZWD12, exhibited potent and broad neutralization against SARS-CoV-2 variants Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Kappa, Delta, and Omicron by blocking the spike protein binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and provided complete protection in the challenged prophylactic and therapeutic K18-hACE2 transgenic mouse model. We defined the ZWD12 epitope by determining its structure in complex with the spike (S) protein via cryo-electron microscopy. This study affords the potential to develop broadly therapeutic mAb drugs and suggests that the RBD epitope bound by ZWD12 is a rational target for the design of a broad spectrum of vaccines.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/genetics , Antibodies, Viral , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/genetics , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Epitopes , Humans , Mice , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vaccination , Viral Envelope Proteins
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-329660


Following Delta, Omicron variant triggered a new wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection globally, adaptive evolution of the virus may not stop, the development of broad-spectrum antivirals is still urgent. We previously developed two hetero-bivalent nanobodies with potent neutralization against original WT SARS-CoV-2, termed aRBD-2-5 and aRBD-2-7, by fusing aRBD-2 with aRBD-5 or aRBD-7, respectively. Here, we resolved crystal structures of these nanobodies in complex with RBD, and found the epitope of aRBD-2 differs from that of aRBD-5, aRBD-7. aRBD-2 binds to a conserved epitope which renders its binding activity to all variants of concern (VOCs) including Omicron. Interestingly, although monovalent aRBD-5 and aRBD-7 lost binding to some variants, they effectively improved the overall affinity when transformed into the hetero-bivalent form after being fused with aRBD-2. Consistent with the high binding affinities, aRBD-2-5-Fc and aRBD-2-7-Fc exhibited ultra-potent neutralization to all five VOCs;particularly, aRBD-2-5-Fc neutralized authentic virus of Beta, Delta and Omicron with the IC50 of 5.98~9.65 ng/mL or 54.3~87.6 pM. Importantly, aRBD-2-5-Fc provided in vivo prophylactic protection for mice against WT and mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2, and provided full protection against Omicron in hamster model when administrated either prophylactically or therapeutically. Taken together, we found a conserved epitope on RBD, and hetero-bivalent nanobodies had increased affinity for VOCs over its monovalent form, and provided potent and broad-spectrum protection both in vitro and in vivo against all tested major variants, and potentially future emerging variants. Our strategy provides a new solution in the development of therapeutic antibodies for COVID-19 caused by newly emergent VOCs.

EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-329417


SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 400 million people around the globe and caused millions of deaths. Since its identification in November 2021, Omicron, a highly transmissible variant, has become the dominant variant in most countries. Omicron highly mutated spike protein, the main target of vaccine development, significantly compromises the immune protection from current vaccination. We develop an mRNA vaccine (SOmicron-6P) based on an Omicron-specific sequence. In mice, SOmicron-6P shows superior neutralizing antibodies inducing abilities to a clinically approved inactivated virus vaccine, a clinically approved protein subunit vaccine, and an mRNA vaccine (SWT-2P) with the same sequence of BNT162b2 RNA. Significantly, SOmicron-6P induces a 14.4~27.7-fold and a 28.3~50.3-fold increase of neutralizing activity against the pseudovirus of Omicron and authentic Omicron compared to SWT-2P, respectively. In addition, two doses SOmicron-6P significantly protects Syrian hamsters against challenge with SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant and elicits high titers of nAbs in a dose-dependent manner in macaques. Our results suggest that SOmicron-6P offers advantages over current vaccines, and it will be helpful for those with weak immunity.