Low serum neutralizing anti-SARS-CoV-2 S antibody levels in mildly affected COVID-19 convalescent patients revealed by two different detection methods.
ABSTRACT: Neutralizing antibodies targeting the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) block severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) entry into cells via surface-expressed angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). We used a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT) and SARS-CoV-2 S protein-pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) vector-based neutralization assay (pVNT) to assess the degree to which serum antibodies from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) convalescent patients interfere with the binding of SARS-CoV-2 S to ACE2. Both tests revealed neutralizing anti-SARS-CoV-2 S antibodies in the sera of ~90% of mildly and 100% of severely affected COVID-19 convalescent patients. Importantly, sVNT and pVNT results correlated strongly with each other and to the levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1 IgG and IgA antibodies. Moreover, levels of neutralizing antibodies correlated with the duration and severity of clinical symptoms but not with patient age. Compared to pVNT, sVNT is less sophisticated and does not require any biosafety labs. Since this assay is also much faster and cheaper, sVNT will not only be important for evaluating the prevalence of neutralizing antibodies in a population but also for identifying promising plasma donors for successful passive antibody therapy.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative virus of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To establish a safe and convenient assay system for studying entry inhibitors and neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, we constructed a codon-optimized, full-length C-terminal mutant spike (S) gene of SARS-CoV-2. We generated a luciferase (Luc)-expressing pseudovirus containing the wild-type or mutant S protein of SARS-CoV-2 in the envelope-defective HIV-1 backbone. The key parameters for this pseudovirus-based assay, including the S mutants and virus incubation time, were optimized. This pseudovirus contains a Luc reporter gene that enabled us to easily quantify virus entry into angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)-expressing 293T cells. Cathepsin (Cat)B/L inhibitor E-64d could significantly block SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus infection in 293T-ACE2 cells. Furthermore, the SARS-CoV-2 spike pseudotyped virus could be neutralized by sera from convalescent COVID-19 patients or recombinant ACE2 with the fused Fc region of human IgG1. Thus, we developed a pseudovirus-based assay for SARS-CoV-2, which will be valuable for evaluating viral entry inhibitors and neutralizing antibodies against this highly pathogenic virus.
Project description:Neutralizing antibody responses to coronaviruses focus on the trimeric spike, with most against the receptor-binding domain (RBD). Here we characterized polyclonal IgGs and Fabs from COVID-19 convalescent individuals for recognition of coronavirus spikes. Plasma IgGs differed in their degree of focus on RBD epitopes, recognition of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and mild coronaviruses, and how avidity effects contributed to increased binding/neutralization of IgGs over Fabs. Electron microscopy reconstructions of polyclonal plasma Fab-spike complexes showed recognition of both S1A and RBD epitopes. A 3.4Å cryo-EM structure of a neutralizing monoclonal Fab-S complex revealed an epitope that blocks ACE2 receptor-binding on "up" RBDs. Modeling suggested that IgGs targeting these sites have different potentials for inter-spike crosslinking on viruses and would not be greatly affected by identified SARS-CoV-2 spike mutations. These studies structurally define a recurrent anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody class derived from VH3-53/VH3-66 and similarity to a SARS-CoV VH3-30 antibody, providing criteria for evaluating vaccine-elicited antibodies.
Project description:Neutralizing antibody responses to coronaviruses mainly target the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the trimeric spike. Here, we characterized polyclonal immunoglobulin Gs (IgGs) and Fabs from COVID-19 convalescent individuals for recognition of coronavirus spikes. Plasma IgGs differed in their focus on RBD epitopes, recognition of alpha- and beta-coronaviruses, and contributions of avidity to increased binding/neutralization of IgGs over Fabs. Using electron microscopy, we examined specificities of polyclonal plasma Fabs, revealing recognition of both S1A and RBD epitopes on SARS-CoV-2 spike. Moreover, a 3.4 Å cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of a neutralizing monoclonal Fab-spike complex revealed an epitope that blocks ACE2 receptor binding. Modeling based on these structures suggested different potentials for inter-spike crosslinking by IgGs on viruses, and characterized IgGs would not be affected by identified SARS-CoV-2 spike mutations. Overall, our studies structurally define a recurrent anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody class derived from VH3-53/VH3-66 and similarity to a SARS-CoV VH3-30 antibody, providing criteria for evaluating vaccine-elicited antibodies.
Project description:While there are various attempts to administer COVID-19-convalescent plasmas to SARS-CoV-2-infected patients, neither appropriate approach nor clinical utility has been established. We examined the presence and temporal changes of the neutralizing activity of IgG fractions from 43 COVID-19-convalescent plasmas using cell-based assays with multiple endpoints. IgG fractions from 27 cases (62.8%) had significant neutralizing activity and moderately to potently inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection in cell-based assays; however, no detectable neutralizing activity was found in 16 cases (37.2%). Approximately half of the patients (~?41%), who had significant neutralizing activity, lost the neutralization activity within?~?1 month. Despite the rapid decline of neutralizing activity in plasmas, good amounts of SARS-CoV-2-S1-binding antibodies were persistently seen. The longer exposure of COVID-19 patients to greater amounts of SARS-CoV-2 elicits potent immune response to SARS-CoV-2, producing greater neutralization activity and SARS-CoV-2-S1-binding antibody amounts. The dilution of highly-neutralizing plasmas with poorly-neutralizing plasmas relatively readily reduced neutralizing activity. The presence of good amounts of SARS-CoV-2-S1-binding antibodies does not serve as a surrogate ensuring the presence of good neutralizing activity. In selecting good COVID-19-convalescent plasmas, quantification of neutralizing activity in each plasma sample before collection and use is required.
Project description:ABSTRACT Pandemic SARS-CoV-2 has caused unprecedented mortalities. Vaccine is in urgent need to stop the pandemic. Despite great progresses on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development, the efficacy of the vaccines remains to be determined. Deciphering the interactions of the viral epitopes with the elicited neutralizing antibodies in convalescent population inspires the vaccine development. In this study, we devised a peptide array composed of 20-mer overlapped peptides of spike (S), membrane (M) and envelope (E) proteins, and performed a screening with 120 COVID-19 convalescent sera and 24 non-COVID-19 sera. We identified five SARS-CoV-2-specific dominant epitopes that reacted with above 40% COVID-19 convalescent sera. Of note, two peptides non-specifically interacted with most of the non-COVID-19 sera. Neutralization assay indicated that only five sera completely blocked viral infection at the dilution of 1:200. By using a peptide-compete neutralizing assay, we found that three dominant epitopes partially competed the neutralization activity of several convalescent sera, suggesting antibodies elicited by these epitopes played an important role in neutralizing viral infection. The epitopes we identified in this study may serve as vaccine candidates to elicit neutralizing antibodies in most vaccinated people or specific antigens for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.
Project description:Virus neutralization remains the gold standard for determining antibody efficacy. Therefore, a high-throughput assay to measure SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies is urgently needed for COVID-19 serodiagnosis, convalescent plasma therapy, and vaccine development. Here, we report on a fluorescence-based SARS-CoV-2 neutralization assay that detects SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies in COVID-19 patient specimens and yields comparable results to plaque reduction neutralizing assay, the gold standard of serological testing. The fluorescence-based neutralization assay is specific to measure COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies without cross reacting with patient specimens with other viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections. Collectively, our approach offers a rapid platform that can be scaled to screen people for antibody protection from COVID-19, a key parameter necessary to safely reopen local communities.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) shares approximately 80% whole genome sequence identity and 66% spike (S) protein identity with that of SARS-CoV. The cross-neutralization between these viruses is currently not well-defined. METHODS:Here, by using the live SARS-CoV-2 virus infection assay as well as HIV-1 based pseudotyped-virus carrying the spike (S) gene of the SARS-CoV-2 (ppSARS-2) and SARS-CoV (ppSARS), we examined whether infections with SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 can induce cross-neutralizing antibodies. FINDINGS:We confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 infects cells via angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the functional receptor for SARS-CoV, and we also found that the recombinant receptor binding domain (RBD) of the S protein of SARS-CoV effectively inhibits ppSARS-2 entry in Huh7.5 cells. However, convalescent sera from SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 patients showed high neutralizing activity only against the homologous virus, with no or limited cross-neutralization activity against the other pseudotyped virus. Similar results were also observed in vaccination studies in mice. INTERPRETATION:Our study demonstrates that although both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 use ACE2 as a cellular receptor, the neutralization epitopes are not shared by these two closely-related viruses, highlighting challenges towards developing a universal vaccine against SARS-CoV related viruses. FUNDING:This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China, the National Major Project for Control and Prevention of Infectious Disease in China, and the One Belt and One Road Major Project for infectious diseases.
Project description:The recent COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious threat to global public health, thus there is an urgent need to define the molecular mechanisms involved in SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein-mediated virus entry that is essential for preventing and/or treating this emerging infectious disease. In this study, we examined the blocking activity of human COVID-19 convalescent plasma by cell-cell fusion assays using SARS-CoV-2-S-transfected 293 T as effector cells and ACE2-expressing 293 T as target cells. We demonstrate that the SARS-CoV-2 S protein exhibits a very high capacity for membrane fusion and is efficient in mediating virus fusion and entry into target cells. Importantly, we find that COVID-19 convalescent plasma with high titers of IgG neutralizing antibodies can block cell-cell fusion and virus entry by interfering with the SARS-CoV-2-S/ACE2 or SARS-CoV-S/ACE2 interactions. These findings suggest that COVID-19 convalescent plasma may not only inhibit SARS-CoV-2-S but also cross-neutralize SARS-CoV-S-mediated membrane fusion and virus entry, supporting its potential as a preventive and/or therapeutic agent against SARS-CoV-2 as well as other SARS-CoV infections.
Project description:The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently the most pressing medical and socioeconomic challenge. Constituting important correlates of protection, the determination of virus-neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) is indispensable for convalescent plasma selection, vaccine candidate evaluation, and immunity certificates. In contrast to standard serological ELISAs, plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNTs) are laborious, time-consuming, expensive, and restricted to specialized laboratories. To replace microscopic counting-based SARS-CoV-2 PRNTs by a novel assay exempt from genetically modified viruses, which are inapplicable in most diagnostics departments, we established a simple, rapid, and automated SARS-CoV-2 neutralization assay employing an in-cell ELISA (icELISA) approach. After optimization of various parameters such as virus-specific antibodies, cell lines, virus doses, and duration of infection, SARS-CoV-2-infected cells became amenable as direct antigen source for quantitative icELISA. Antiviral agents such as human sera containing NAbs or antiviral interferons dose dependently reduced the SARS-CoV-2-specific signal. Applying increased infectious doses, the icELISA-based neutralization test (icNT) was superior to PRNT in discriminating convalescent sera with high from those with intermediate neutralizing capacities. In addition, the icNT was found to be specific, discriminating between SARS-CoV-2-specific NAbs and those raised against other coronaviruses. Altogether, the SARS-CoV-2 icELISA test allows rapid (<48 h in total, read-out in seconds) and automated quantification of virus infection in cell culture to evaluate the efficacy of NAbs and antiviral drugs using reagents and equipment present in most routine diagnostics departments.
Project description:The pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has posed serious threats to global health and economy, thus calling for the development of safe and effective vaccines. The receptor-binding domain (RBD) in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for its binding to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. It contains multiple dominant neutralizing epitopes and serves as an important antigen for the development of COVID-19 vaccines. Here, we showed that immunization of mice with a candidate subunit vaccine consisting of SARS-CoV-2 RBD and Fc fragment of human IgG, as an immunopotentiator, elicited high titer of RBD-specific antibodies with robust neutralizing activity against both pseudotyped and live SARS-CoV-2 infections. The mouse antisera could also effectively neutralize infection by pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 with several natural mutations in RBD and the IgG extracted from the mouse antisera could also show neutralization against pseudotyped SARS-CoV and SARS-related coronavirus (SARSr-CoV). Vaccination of human ACE2 transgenic mice with RBD-Fc could effectively protect mice from the SARS-CoV-2 challenge. These results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 RBD-Fc has good potential to be further developed as an effective and broad-spectrum vaccine to prevent infection of the current SARS-CoV-2 and its mutants, as well as future emerging SARSr-CoVs and re-emerging SARS-CoV.