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J Extracell Vesicles ; 10(8): e12112, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1272198


In late 2019, a novel coronavirus named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in Wuhan, China. SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), spread rapidly and became a global pandemic in early 2020. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is responsible for viral entry and binds to angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) on host cells, making it a major target of the immune system - particularly neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) that are induced by infection or vaccines. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small membraned particles constitutively released by cells, including virally-infected cells. EVs and viruses enclosed within lipid membranes share some characteristics: they are small, sub-micron particles and they overlap in cellular biogenesis and egress routes. Given their shared characteristics, we hypothesized that EVs released from spike-expressing cells could carry spike and serve as decoys for anti-spike nAbs, promoting viral infection. Here, using mass spectrometry and nanoscale flow cytometry (NFC) approaches, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spike protein can be incorporated into EVs. Furthermore, we show that spike-carrying EVs act as decoy targets for convalescent patient serum-derived nAbs, reducing their effectiveness in blocking viral entry. These findings have important implications for the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in vivo and highlight the complex interplay between viruses, extracellular vesicles, and the immune system that occurs during viral infections.

Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/therapy , Extracellular Vesicles/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Flow Cytometry , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Protein Binding , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/analysis