Mechanism of a COVID-19 nanoparticle vaccine candidate that elicits a broadly neutralizing antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 variants

Yi-Nan Zhang, Jennifer Paynter, Cindy Sou, Tatiana Fourfouris, Ying Wang, Ciril Abraham, Timothy Ngo, Yi Zhang, Linling He, Jiang Zhu
Science. Advances 2021; Volume 7 Issue 43 : eabj3107 20 October 2021. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj310

Vaccines that induce potent neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses against emerging variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are essential for combating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We demonstrated that mouse plasma induced by self-assembling protein nanoparticles (SApNPs) that present 20 rationally designed S2GΔHR2 spikes of the ancestral Wuhan-Hu-1 strain can neutralize the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and B.1.617 variants with comparable potency. The adjuvant effect on vaccine-induced immunity was investigated by testing 16 formulations for the multilayered I3-01v9 SApNP. Using single-cell sorting, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with diverse neutralization breadth and potency were isolated from mice immunized with the receptor binding domain (RBD), S2GΔHR2 spike, and SApNP vaccines. The mechanism of vaccine-induced immunity was examined in the mouse model. Compared with the soluble spike, the I3-01v9 SApNP showed sixfold longer retention, fourfold greater presentation on follicular dendritic cell dendrites, and fivefold stronger germinal center reactions in lymph node follicles.

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