A Novel DNA Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2 Encoding a Chimeric Protein of Its Receptor-Binding Domain (RBD) Fused to the Amino-Terminal Region of Hepatitis B Virus preS1 With a W4P Mutation
ABSTRACT: A coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which has caused the pandemic viral pneumonia disease COVID-19, significantly threatens global public health, highlighting the need to develop effective and safe vaccines against its infection. In this study, we developed a novel DNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 by expressing a chimeric protein of its receptor-binding domain (RBD) fused to a 33-bp sequence (11 aa) from the hepatitis B virus (HBV) preS1 region with a W4P mutation (W4P-RBD) at the N-terminal region and evaluated its immunogenicity. In vitro transfection experiments in multiple cell lines demonstrated that W4P-RBD vs. wild-type RBD protein (W-RBD) led to enhanced production of IL-6 and TNF? at the transcription and translation levels, suggesting the adjuvant potential of N-terminal HBV preS1 sequences for DNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. W4P-RBD also led to enhanced production of IgG and IgA, which can neutralize and block SARS-CoV-2 infection in both blood sera and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from the lung in vaccinated mice. Additionally, W4P-RBD led to an enhanced T-cell-mediated cellular immune response under S1 protein stimulation. In summary, W4P-RBD led to robust humoral and cell-mediated immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 in vaccinated mice, highlighting its feasibility as a novel DNA vaccine to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Project description:Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major public health problem. Human hepatocytes are infected with HBV via binding between the preS1 region in the large envelope protein of HBV and sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide. Although several monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that recognize the receptor binding domain in preS1 and neutralize HBV infection have been isolated, details of neutralizing epitopes are not understood. In this study, we generated 13 MAbs targeting the preS1 receptor binding domain from preS1-specific memory B cells derived from DNA immunized mice. The MAbs were classified into three groups according to the epitope regions, designated epitopes I-III. A virus neutralization assay revealed that MAbs recognizing epitopes I and III neutralized HBV infection, suggesting that these domains are critical epitopes for viral neutralization. In addition, a neutralization assay against multiple genotypes of HBV revealed that epitope I is a semi-pangenotypic neutralizing epitope, whereas epitope III is a genotype-specific epitope. We also showed that neutralizing MAbs against preS1 could neutralize HBV bearing vaccine-induced escape mutation. These findings provide insight into novel immunoprophylaxis for the prevention and treatment of HBV infection.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> The HBV preS1 2-47 aa region (preS1/2-47) is essential for virus binding with sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide. Several MAbs targeting preS1/2-47 have been reported to neutralize HBV infection; however, which region in preS1/2-47 contains the critical neutralizing epitope for HBV infection is unclear. Here, we generated several MAbs targeting preS1/2-47 and found that MAbs recognizing the N- or C-terminus of preS1/2-47 remarkably neutralized HBV infection. We further confirmed the neutralizing activity of anti-preS1 MAbs against HBV with vaccine escape mutation. These data clarified the relationship between the antibody epitope and the virus neutralizing activity and also suggested the potential ability of a vaccine antigen containing the preS1 region to overcome the weakness of current HB vaccines comprising the small S protein.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. One possibility to control the pandemic is to induce sterilizing immunity through the induction and maintenance of neutralizing antibodies preventing SARS-CoV-2 from entering human cells to replicate in.<h4>Methods</h4>We report the construction and in vitro and in vivo characterization of a SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccine (PreS-RBD) based on a structurally folded recombinant fusion protein consisting of two SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein receptor-binding domains (RBD) fused to the N- and C-terminus of hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen PreS to enable the two unrelated proteins serving as immunologic carriers for each other.<h4>Results</h4>PreS-RBD, but not RBD alone, induced a robust and uniform RBD-specific IgG response in rabbits. Currently available genetic SARS-CoV-2 vaccines induce mainly transient IgG<sub>1</sub> responses in vaccinated subjects whereas the PreS-RBD vaccine induced RBD-specific IgG antibodies consisting of an early IgG<sub>1</sub> and sustained IgG<sub>4</sub> antibody response in a SARS-CoV-2 naive subject. PreS-RBD-specific IgG antibodies were detected in serum and mucosal secretions, reacted with SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the omicron variant of concern and the HBV receptor-binding sites on PreS of currently known HBV genotypes. PreS-RBD-specific antibodies of the immunized subject more potently inhibited the interaction of RBD with its human receptor ACE2 and their virus-neutralizing titers (VNTs) were higher than median VNTs in a random sample of healthy subjects fully immunized with registered SARS-CoV-2 vaccines or in COVID-19 convalescent subjects.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The PreS-RBD vaccine has the potential to serve as a combination vaccine for inducing sterilizing immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and HBV by stopping viral replication through the inhibition of cellular virus entry.
Project description:Entry inhibitors are promising novel antivirals against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The existing potential entry inhibitors have targeted the cellular receptor(s). In this study, we aim to develop the first entry inhibitor that inhibits HBV infection via targeting viral particles. The preS1 segment of the large envelope glycoprotein of HBV is essential for virion attachment and infection. Previously, we obtained a preS1-binding short peptide B10 by screening a phage display peptide library using the N-terminal half of preS1 (residues 1 to 60, genotype C). We report here that by means of concatenation of B10, we identified a quadruple concatemer 4B10 that displayed a markedly increased preS1-binding activity. The main binding site of 4B10 in preS1 was mapped to the receptor binding enhancing region. 4B10 blocked HBV attachment to hepatic cells and inhibited HBV infection of primary human and tupaia hepatocytes at low nanomolar concentrations. The 4B10-mediated inhibition of HBV infection is specific as it did not inhibit the infection of vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein pseudotyped lentivirus or human immunodeficiency virus type 1. Moreover, 4B10 showed no binding activity to hepatic cells. In conclusion, we have identified 4B10 as a promising candidate for a novel class of HBV entry inhibitors.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a causative agent of the CoV disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, enters host cells via the interaction of its receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein with host angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Therefore, the RBD is a promising vaccine target to induce protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this study, we report the development of an RBD protein-based vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 using self-assembling <i>Helicobacter pylori</i>-bullfrog ferritin nanoparticles as an antigen delivery system. RBD-ferritin protein purified from mammalian cells efficiently assembled into 24-mer nanoparticles. Sixteen- to 20-month-old ferrets were vaccinated with RBD-ferritin nanoparticles (RBD nanoparticles) by intramuscular or intranasal inoculation. All vaccinated ferrets with RBD nanoparticles produced potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Strikingly, vaccinated ferrets demonstrated efficient protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge, showing no fever, body weight loss, or clinical symptoms. Furthermore, vaccinated ferrets showed rapid clearance of infectious virus in nasal washes and lungs as well as of viral RNA in respiratory organs. This study demonstrates that spike RBD-nanoparticles are an effective protein vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a causative agent of COVID-19 pandemic, enters host cells <i>via</i> the interaction of its Receptor-Binding Domain (RBD) of Spike protein with host Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2). Therefore, RBD is a promising vaccine target to induce protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this study, we report the development of RBD protein-based vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 using self-assembling <i>H. pylori</i> -bullfrog ferritin nanoparticles as an antigen delivery. RBD-ferritin protein purified from mammalian cells efficiently assembled into 24-mer nanoparticles. 16-20 months-old ferrets were vaccinated with RBD-ferritin nanoparticles (RBD-nanoparticles) by intramuscular or intranasal inoculation. All vaccinated ferrets with RBD-nanoparticles produced potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Strikingly, vaccinated ferrets demonstrated efficient protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge, showing no fever, body weight loss and clinical symptoms. Furthermore, vaccinated ferrets showed rapid clearance of infectious viruses in nasal washes and lungs as well as viral RNA in respiratory organs. This study demonstrates the Spike RBD-nanoparticle as an effective protein vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.
Project description:Neutralizing monoclonal antibodies are being found to be increasingly useful in viral infections. In hepatitis B infection, antibodies are proven to be useful for passive prophylaxis. The preS1 region (21-47a.a.) of HBV contains the viral hepatocyte-binding domain crucial for its attachment and infection of hepatocytes. Antibodies against this region are neutralizing and are best suited for immune-based neutralization of HBV, especially in view of their not recognizing decoy particles. Anti-preS1 (21-47a.a.) antibodies are present in serum of spontaneously recovered individuals. We generated a phage-displayed scFv library using circulating lymphocytes from these individuals and selected four preS1-peptide specific scFvs with markedly distinct sequences from this library. All the antibodies recognized the blood-derived and recombinant preS1 containing antigens. Each scFv showed a discrete binding signature, interacting with different amino acids within the preS1-peptide region. Ability to prevent binding of the preS1 protein (N-terminus 60a.a.) to HepG2 cells stably expressing hNTCP (HepG2-hNTCP-C4 cells), the HBV receptor on human hepatocytes was taken as a surrogate marker for neutralizing capacity. These antibodies inhibited preS1-hepatocyte interaction individually and even better in combination. Such a combination of potentially neutralizing recombinant antibodies with defined specificities could be used for preventing/managing HBV infections, including those by possible escape mutants.
Project description:Strong tolerance to hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigens limits the therapeutic effect of the conventional hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) vaccination in both preclinical animal models and patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection. In contrast, we observed that clinical CHB patients presented less immune tolerance to the preS1 domain of HBV large surface antigen. To study whether targeting the weak tolerance of the preS1 region could improve therapy gain, we explored vaccination with the long peptide of preS1 domain for HBV virions clearance. Our study showed that this preS1-polypeptide rather than HBsAg vaccination induced robust immune responses in HBV carrier mice. The anti-preS1 rapidly cleared HBV virions in vivo and blocked HBV infection to hepatocytes in vitro. Intriguingly, vaccination of preS1-polypeptide even reduced the tolerized status of HBsAg, opening a therapeutic window for the host to respond to the HBsAg vaccine. A sequential administration of antigenically distinct preS1-polypeptide and HBsAg vaccines in HBV carrier mice could finally induce HBsAg/hepatitis B surface antibody serological conversion and clear chronic HBV infection in carrier mice. CONCLUSION:These results suggest that preS1 can function as a therapeutic vaccine for the control of CHB. (Hepatology 2017;66:1067-1082).
Project description:At present, concerns that the recent global emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants could compromise the current vaccines have been raised, highlighting the urgent demand for new vaccines capable of eliciting T cell-mediated immune responses, as well as B cell-mediated neutralizing antibody production. In this study, we developed a novel recombinant <i>Mycobacterium paragordonae</i> expressing the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) (rMpg-RBD-7) that is capable of eliciting RBD-specific immune responses in vaccinated mice. The potential use of rMpg-RBD-7 as a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 infections was evaluated in <i>in vivo</i> using mouse models of two different modules, one for single-dose vaccination and the other for two-dose vaccination. In a single-dose vaccination model, we found that rMpg-RBD-7 <i>versus</i> a heat-killed strain could exert an enhanced cell-mediated immune (CMI) response, as well as a humoral immune response capable of neutralizing the RBD and ACE2 interaction. In a two-dose vaccination model, rMpg-RBD-7 in a two-dose vaccination could also exert a stronger CMI and humoral immune response to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 infections in pseudoviral or live virus infection systems, compared to single dose vaccinations of rMpg-RBD or two-dose RBD protein immunization. In conclusion, our data showed that rMpg-RBD-7 can lead to an enhanced CMI response and humoral immune responses in mice vaccinated with both single- or two-dose vaccination, highlighting its feasibility as a novel vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first in which mycobacteria is used as a delivery system for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.
Project description:The PreS1 region of the L protein is important in cell attachment and consequently in hepatitis B virus (HBV) infectivity. To identify novel PreS1 interacting protein, we performed Glutathione-S-transferase (GST) pull-down, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and mass spectrometry assays. Glucose-regulated proteins (GRP) 78 and 75 were found to bind PreS1. The interactions between PreS1 and GRP75 were confirmed by a co-immunoprecipitation experiment. GRP78 and GRP75 may play important roles in mediating HBV virion entering into hepatocyte and regulating proper folding of the L protein due to their critical functions in protein folding and trafficking. The finding of novel PreS1 binding protein enriches our knowledge about molecular mechanism of HBV infection.
Project description:Development of vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is crucial in the prevention of SARS reemergence. The receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV spike (S) protein is an important target in developing safe and effective SARS vaccines. Our previous study has demonstrated that vaccination with adeno-associated virus encoding RBD (RBD-rAAV) induces high titer of neutralizing antibodies. In this study, we further assessed the immune responses and protective effect of the immunization with RBD-rAAV prime/RBD-specific T cell peptide boost. Compared with the RBD-rAAV prime/boost vaccination, RBD-rAAV prime/RBD-peptide (RBD-Pep) boost induced similar levels of Th1 and neutralizing antibody responses that protected the vaccinated mice from subsequent SARS-CoV challenge, but stronger Th2 and CTL responses. No significant immune responses and protective effects were detected in mice vaccinated with RBD-Pep or blank AAV alone. Since T cell epitopes are highly conserved and boosting with peptides may induce the production of effector memory T cells, which may be effective against viruses with mutations in the neutralizing epitopes, our results suggest that the vaccination protocol used may be ideal for providing effective, broad and long-term protection against SARS-CoV infection.