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(searched for: doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03944-y)
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Published: 17 May 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron has spread world-wide and is responsible for rapid increases in infections, including in populations with high vaccination rates. Here, we analysed in the sera of vaccinated individuals the antibody binding to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein and the neutralization of wild-type (WT), Delta (B.1.617.2), and Omicron (B.1.1.529; BA.1) pseudotyped vectors. Although sera from individuals immunized with vector vaccines (Vaxzevria; AZ and COVID-19 Janssen, Ad26.COV2.S; J&J) were able to bind and neutralize WT and Delta, they showed only background levels towards Omicron. In contrast, mRNA (Comirnaty; BNT) or heterologous (AZ/BNT) vaccines induced weak, but detectable responses against Omicron. While RBD-binding antibody levels decreased significantly six months after full vaccination, the SARS-CoV-2 RBD-directed avidity remained constant. However, this still coincided with a significant decrease in neutralization activity against all variants. A third booster vaccination with BNT significantly increased the humoral immune responses against all tested variants, including Omicron. In conclusion, only vaccination schedules that included at least one dose of mRNA vaccine and especially an mRNA booster vaccination induced sufficient antibody levels with neutralization capacity against multiple variants, including Omicron.
Qian Wang, Xing Wu, Qunying Mao, Fan Gao, Mingchen Liu, Ziyang Song, Lianlian Bian,
Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy; https://doi.org/10.1080/14787210.2022.2078307

Abstract:
Effective treatments for the ongoing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic are limited. The virus has evolved strategies to evade the immune system or hijack immune responses to facilitate infection and escape immune surveillance. Mechanistically, SARS-CoV-2 takes advantage of TLR4 and cytokine-induced integrins to promote its entrance into the cell. Furthermore, the activation of pattern recognition receptors (PRR)-mediated signaling pathways is compromised by SARS-CoV-2 non-structural proteins (NSPs), accessory protein open reading frames (ORFs), and structural proteins upon infection, contributing to viral infection and replication. Host factors necessary for cellular protein synthesis, metabolism, and viral replication can also be inhibited by the SARS-CoV-2 proteins. Exploring specific mechanisms would optimize the therapy methods and benefit drug research and development. : We describe pathways and mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 evades immune system; these include the mechanisms that operate during virus entry, signaling pathways involved, and processes at RNA and protein levels. : Increased understanding of how viruses interfere with immune responses would provide more evidence for drug development. Drugs targeting conserved viral proteins to inhibit their replication or host factors to enhance immune responses would minimize the impact of virus mutations and prepare for future coronavirus outbreaks.
Published: 11 May 2022
by MDPI
Viruses, Volume 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14051024

Abstract:
Individuals infected with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, lineage B.1.617.2, exhibit faster initial infection with a higher viral load than prior variants, and pseudotyped viral particles bearing the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant spike protein induce a faster initial infection rate of target cells compared to those bearing other SARS-CoV-2 variant spikes. Here, we show that pseudotyped viral particles bearing the Delta variant spike form unique aggregates, as evidenced by negative stain and cryogenic electron microscopy (EM), flow cytometry, and nanoparticle tracking analysis. Viral particles pseudotyped with other SARS-CoV-2 spike variants do not show aggregation by any of these criteria. The contribution to infection kinetics of the Delta spike’s unique property to aggregate is discussed with respect to recent evidence for collective infection by other viruses. Irrespective of this intriguing possibility, spike-dependent aggregation is a new functional parameter of spike-expressing viral particles to evaluate in future spike protein variants.
Published: 11 May 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The incidence of COVID-19 breakthrough infections—an infection that occurs after you have been vaccinated—has increased in frequency since the Delta and now Omicron variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have become the dominant strains transmitted in the United States (US). Evidence suggests that individuals with breakthrough infections, though rare and expected, may readily transmit COVID-19 to unvaccinated populations, posing a continuing threat to the unvaccinated. Here, we examine factors contributing to breakthrough infections including a poor immune response to the vaccines due to the fact of advanced age and underlying comorbidities, the natural waning of immune protection from the vaccines over time, and viral variants that escape existing immune protection from the vaccines. The rise in breakthrough infections in the US and how they contribute to new infections, specifically among the unvaccinated and individuals with compromised immune systems, will create the need for additional booster vaccinations or development of modified vaccines that directly target current variants circulating among the general population. The need to expedite vaccination among the more than 49.8 million unvaccinated eligible people in the US is critical.
Lisa Paschold, Bianca Klee, Cornelia Gottschick, Edith Willscher, Sophie Diexer, Christoph Schultheiß, Donjete Simnica, Daniel Sedding, Matthias Girndt, Michael Gekle, et al.
Frontiers in Immunology, Volume 13; https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2022.876306

Abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic shows that vaccination strategies building on an ancestral viral strain need to be optimized for the control of potentially emerging viral variants. Therefore, aiming at strong B cell somatic hypermutation to increase antibody affinity to the ancestral strain - not only at high antibody titers - is a priority when utilizing vaccines that are not targeted at individual variants since high affinity may offer some flexibility to compensate for strain-individual mutations. Here, we developed a next-generation sequencing based SARS-CoV-2 B cell tracking protocol to rapidly determine the level of immunoglobulin somatic hypermutation at distinct points during the immunization period. The percentage of somatically hypermutated B cells in the SARS-CoV-2 specific repertoire was low after the primary vaccination series, evolved further over months and increased steeply after boosting. The third vaccination mobilized not only naïve, but also antigen-experienced B cell clones into further rapid somatic hypermutation trajectories indicating increased affinity. Together, the strongly mutated post-booster repertoires and antibodies deriving from this may explain why the third, but not the primary vaccination series, offers some protection against immune-escape variants such as Omicron B.1.1.529.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095719

Abstract:
Governments have implemented measures to minimize SARS-CoV-2 spread. However, these measures were relaxed, and the appearance of new variants has prompted periods of high contagion known as waves. In Mexico, four waves distributed between July and August 2020, January and February 2021, August and September 2021, and January and February 2022 have appeared. Current health policies discourage mass sampling, preferring to focus on the corrective treatment of severe cases. Outpatients are only advised to undergo brief voluntary confinement and symptomatic treatment, with no follow-up. Therefore, the present study aimed to analyze sex, age, and viral load in outpatients during the four waves in a medium-sized city in Mexico. For each wave, the date of peak contagion was identified, and data were collected within ±15 days. In this regard, data from 916 patients (434 men and 482 women) were analyzed. The age range of positive patients (37–45 years) presented a higher frequency during the first and third waves, while 28–36 years was the most frequent age range during the second and fourth waves, while the viral load values were significantly higher, for both sexes, during the fourth wave. Obtained data of COVID-19 prevalence in population segments can be used for decision-making in the design of effective public health policies.
Yu-Dong Zhang, Ding Chen, Lei Hu, Liang Shen, Ren-Yuan Wu, Fu-Ming Cao, Jian-Qiang Xu, Liang Wang
Frontiers in Microbiology, Volume 13; https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2022.865963

Abstract:
Objective: Epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19 outbreak in Yangzhou city caused by the highly contagious Delta variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus were investigated in this retrospective descriptive study to provide prevention and control guidelines for outbreaks in the future.Methods: All the epidemiological data used in this study were collected manually from the official website of the Yangzhou Municipal Health Committee from 28 July to 26 August 2021, and then were analyzed systematically and statistically in this study.Results: A total of 570 COVID-19 cases were reported during the short-term outbreak in Yangzhou City. The ages of infected individuals ranged from 1 to 90 years with the average age at 49.47 ± 22.69 years. As for gender distributions, the ratio of male- to-female patients was 1:1.36 (242:328). Geographic analysis showed that 377 patients (66.1%) were in Hanjiang District while 188 patients (33.0%) were in Guangling District. Clinical diagnosis showed that 175 people (30.7%) had mild symptoms, 385 people were in moderate conditions (67.5%), and 10 people were in severe situations (1.8%). Significant age differences were found among the three groups (P < 0.001). However, no significant difference was identified in terms of gender ratio (P > 0.05). Based on the transmission chain formed by 6 generations of infected persons with a clear transmission relationship, the age showed a gradually decreasing trend, while the median time of diagnosis in 2 adjacent generations was 3 days. In addition, the estimated basic reproduction number R0 of the Delta variant was 3.3651 by the classical Susceptible, Infectious, and/or Recovered (SIR) model.Conclusion: The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was highly infectious and has obvious clustering characteristics during the Yangzhou outbreak in China.
Maria Manali, Laura A. Bissett, Julien A. R. Amat, Nicola Logan, Sam Scott, Ellen C. Hughes, William T. Harvey, Richard Orton, , Rory N. Gunson, et al.
Published: 6 May 2022
Abstract:
Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, humans have been exposed to distinct SARS-CoV-2 antigens, either by infection with different variants, and/or vaccination. Population immunity is thus highly heterogeneous, but the impact of such heterogeneity on the effectiveness and breadth of the antibody-mediated response is unclear. We measured antibody-mediated neutralisation responses against SARS-CoV-2Wuhan, SARS-CoV-2α, SARS-CoV-2δ and SARS-CoV-2ο pseudoviruses using sera from patients with distinct immunological histories, including naive, vaccinated, infected with SARS-CoV-2Wuhan, SARS-CoV-2α or SARS-CoV-2δ, and vaccinated/infected individuals. We show that the breadth and potency of the antibody-mediated response is influenced by the number, the variant, and the nature (infection or vaccination) of exposures, and that individuals with mixed immunity acquired by vaccination and natural exposure exhibit the broadest and most potent responses. Our results suggest that the interplay between host immunity and SARS-CoV-2 evolution will shape the antigenicity and subsequent transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2, with important implications for future vaccine design.Author Summary: Neutralising antibodies provide protection against viruses and are generated because of vaccination or prior infections. The main target of anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies is a protein called Spike, which decorates the viral particle and mediates viral entry into cells. As SARS-CoV-2 evolves, mutations accumulate in the spike protein, allowing the virus to escape antibody-mediated immunity and decreasing vaccine effectiveness. Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants have appeared since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing various waves of infection through the population and infecting-in some cases-people that had been previously infected or vaccinated. Since the antibody response is highly specific, individuals infected with different variants are likely to have different repertoires of neutralising antibodies. We studied the breadth and potency of the antibody-mediated response against different SARS-CoV-2 variants using sera from vaccinated people as well as from people infected with different variants. We show that potency of the antibody response against different SARS-CoV-2 variants depends on the particular variant that infected each person, the exposure type (infection or vaccination) and the number and order of exposures. Our study provides insight into the interplay between virus evolution and immunity, as well as important information for the development of better vaccination strategies.
Adam Abdullahi, David Oladele, Steven A. Kemp, James Ayorinde, Abideen Salako, Fehintola Ige, Douglas Fink, Chika Onwuamah, Qosim Osuolale, Rufai Abubakar, et al.
Published: 5 May 2022
Abstract:
Background: There are no real world data on vaccine elicited neutralising antibody responses for the world’s most widely used vaccine, AZD1222, in African populations following scale up. Here, we measured i) baseline SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence and levels of protective neutralizing antibodies prior to vaccination rollout using both flow cytometric based analysis of binding antibodies to nucleocapsid (N), coupled with virus neutralisation approaches and ii) neutralizing antibody responses to VOC prior to vaccination (January 2021) and after two-doses of AZD1222 vaccine administered between June and July 2021 in Lagos, Nigeria - a period when the Delta variant was circulating.Methods: Health workers at multiple sites in Lagos were recruited to the study. For binding antibody measurement, IgG antibodies against SARS-COV-2 Wuhan-1 receptor-binding domain (RBD), trimeric spike protein (S), nucleocapsid protein (N) and Omicron S1 were measured using the Luminex-based SARS-CoV-2-IgG assay by flow cytometry. For plasma neutralising antibody measurement, SARS-CoV-2 lentiviral pseudovirus (PV) were prepared by transfecting 293T cells with Wuhan-614G wild type (WT), B.1.617.2 (Delta) and BA.1 (Omicron) plasmids in conjunction with HIV-1 expression vectors and luciferase encoding genome flanked by LTRs. We performed serial plasma dilutions from each time point and mixed plasma with PV before infecting HeLa-ACE2 cell lines, reading out luminescence and calculating ID50 (reciprocal dilution of sera required to inhibit 50% of PV infection).Results: Our study population receiving at least one dose of vaccine comprised 140 participants with a median age of 40 (interquartile range: 33, 48). 62/140 (44%) participants were anti-N IgG positive prior to administration of first vaccine dose. 49 had plasma samples available at baseline prior to vaccination and at two follow-up timepoints post vaccination for neutralization assays. Half of the participants, 25/49 (51%) were IgG anti-N positive at baseline. Of the 24 individuals anti-N Ab negative at baseline, 12/24 had ID50 above the cut-off of 20. In these individuals, binding antibodies to S were also detectable, and neutralisation correlated with IgG anti-S, suggesting waning of N antibody after infection. Overall, neutralizing Ab titres to WT 1 month after second dose were 2579 and at 3 months post second-dose were 1695. As expected, lower levels of neutralization were observed against the Delta GMT 549 and Omicron variants 269 at 1 month. Positive anti-N IgG Ab status at baseline was associated with significantly higher titres of neutralizing antibodies following vaccination across all tested VOC. Those with anti-N Abs present at baseline did not experience waning of responses between months 1 and 3 post second dose. When data were analysed for negative anti-N IgG status at any timepoint, there was a significant decline in neutralization and binding antibodies between 1 month and 3 months post second-dose. The GMT in these individuals for Delta and Omicron was approximately 100, nearly a log lower in comparison to WT. We tested anti-N IgG in subjects who were anti-N IgG negative at baseline (n=78) and became positive between 1- and 3-months post second dose and found 7/49 (14%) with de-novo infection, with one additional participant demonstrating both reinfection and breakthrough infection to yield a total breakthrough rate of 8/49 (16%). Neutralising and binding Ab titres 1 month post vaccine, prior to breakthrough, were not associated with breakthrough infection. Neutralizing titres were higher at the last time point in individuals who had experienced vaccine breakthrough infection (with no evidence of infection prior to vaccine), indicating a boosting effect of infection in addition to vaccine. The increase in titres against Delta PV observed in breakthrough was significantly greater than the increase for WT and Omicron PVs, coincident with in the Delta wave of infection during the sampling period.Conclusions: AZD1222 is immunogenic in this real world west African cohort with significant background seroprevalence and incidence of breakthrough infection over a short time period. Prior infection and breakthrough infection induced higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 Ab responses at 3 months post vaccine against all widely circulating VOC. However, responses to Omicron BA.1 were low at three months regardless of prior exposure or breakthrough infection. Booster doses after AZD1222 should be considered for those at high risk in the African setting, even after natural infection, as future variants may be more pathogenic as well as immune evasive in the context of waning immunity.
, Soumendu Mahapatra, Rasmita Mishra, Krushna Chandra Murmu, Shifu Aggarwal, Manisha Sethi, Priyanka Mohapatra, , Rina Yadav, Hiren Dodia, et al.
Abstract:
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a major global health concern. This virus infects the upper respiratory tract and causes pneumonia-like symptoms. So far, few studies have shown alterations in nasopharyngeal (NP) microbial diversity, enrichment of opportunistic pathogens and their role in co-infections during respiratory infections. Therefore, we hypothesized that microbial diversity changes, with increase in the population of opportunistic pathogens, during SARS-CoV2 infection in the nasopharynx, which may be involved in co-infection in COVID-19 patients. The 16S rRNA variable regions, V1–V9, of NP samples of control and COVID-19 (symptomatic and asymptomatic) patients were sequenced using the Oxford Nanopore™ technology. Comprehensive bioinformatics analysis for determining alpha/beta diversities, non-metric multidimensional scaling, correlation studies, canonical correspondence analysis, linear discriminate analysis, and dysbiosis index were used to analyze the control and COVID-19-specific NP microbiomes. We observed significant dysbiosis in the COVID-19 NP microbiome with an increase in the abundance of opportunistic pathogens at genus and species levels in asymptomatic/symptomatic patients. The significant abundance of Mycobacteria spp. and Mycoplasma spp. in symptomatic patients suggests their association and role in co-infections in COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, we found strong correlation of enrichment of Mycobacteria and Mycoplasma with the occurrences of chest pain and fever in symptomatic COVID-19 patients. This is the first study from India to show the abundance of Mycobacteria and Mycoplasma opportunistic pathogens in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients and their relationship with symptoms, indicating the possibility of co-infections.
, Maurizio Sanguinetti
Published: 2 May 2022
The publisher has not yet granted permission to display this abstract.
Daichi Yamasoba, Izumi Kimura, Hesham Nasser, Yuhei Morioka, Naganori Nao, Jumpei Ito, Keiya Uriu, Masumi Tsuda, Jiri Zahradnik, Kotaro Shirakawa, et al.
Published: 1 May 2022
Prerna Arora, Amy Kempf, Inga Nehlmeier, Luise Graichen, Martin S. Winkler, Martin Lier, Sebastian Schulz, Hans-Martin Jäck, Anne Cossmann, Metodi V. Stankov, et al.
Published: 1 May 2022
Jingen Zhu, Swati Jain, Jian Sha, Himanshu Batra, Neeti Ananthaswamy, Paul B. Kilgore, Emily K. Hendrix, Yashoda M. Hosakote, Xiaorong Wu, Juan P. Olano, et al.
Published: 29 April 2022
Abstract:
SUMMARY: The authorized mRNA- and adenovirus-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are intramuscularly injected and effective in preventing COVID-19, but do not induce efficient mucosal immunity, or prevent viral transmission. We developed a bacteriophage T4-based, multicomponent, needle and adjuvant-free, mucosal vaccine by engineering spike trimers on capsid exterior and nucleocapsid protein in the interior. Intranasal administration of T4-COVID vaccine induced higher virus neutralization antibody titers against multiple variants, balanced Th1/Th2 antibody and cytokine responses, stronger CD4+ and CD8+ T cell immunity, and higher secretory IgA titers in sera and bronchoalveolar lavage with no effect on the gut microbiota, compared to vaccination of mice intramuscularly. The vaccine is stable at ambient temperature, induces apparent sterilizing immunity, and provides complete protection against original SARS-CoV-2 strain and its Delta variant with minimal lung histopathology. This mucosal vaccine is an excellent candidate for boosting immunity of immunized and/or as a second-generation vaccine for the unimmunized population.
, Kyle G. Luiten, Amanda M. Casto, , Jessica O’Hanlon, Peter D. Han, Luis Gamboa, Evan McDermot, Melissa Truong, Geoffrey S. Gottlieb, et al.
Published: 28 April 2022
Abstract:
Novel variants continue to emerge in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. University testing programs may provide timely epidemiologic and genomic surveillance data to inform public health responses. We conducted testing from September 2021 to February 2022 in a university population under vaccination and indoor mask mandates. A total of 3,048 of 24,393 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR; whole genome sequencing identified 209 Delta and 1,730 Omicron genomes of the 1,939 total sequenced. Compared to Delta, Omicron had a shorter median serial interval between genetically identical, symptomatic infections within households (2 versus 6 days, P=0.021). Omicron also demonstrated a greater peak reproductive number (2.4 versus 1.8) and a 1.07 (95% confidence interval: 0.58, 1.57; P<0.0001) higher mean cycle threshold value. Despite near universal vaccination and stringent mitigation measures, Omicron rapidly displaced the Delta variant to become the predominant viral strain and led to a surge in cases in a university population.
Published: 28 April 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest public health threat facing the world today. Multiple vaccines have been approved; however, the emergence of viral variants such as the recent Omicron raises the possibility of booster doses to achieve adequate protection. In Brazil, the CoronaVac (Sinovac, Beijing, China) vaccine was used; however, it is important to assess the immune response to this vaccine over time. This study aimed to monitor the anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses in those immunized with CoronaVac and SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals. Samples were collected between August 2020 and August 2021. Within the vaccinated cohort, some individuals had a history of infection by SARS-CoV-2 prior to immunization, while others did not. We analyzed RBD-specific and neutralizing-antibodies. Anti-RBD antibodies were detected in both cohorts, with a peak between 45–90 days post infection or vaccination, followed by a steady decline over time. In those with a previous history of COVID-19, a higher, longer, more persistent response was observed. This trend was mirrored in the neutralization assays, where infection, followed by immunization, resulted in higher, longer lasting responses which were conditioned on the presence of levels of RBD antibodies right before the vaccination. This supports the necessity of booster doses of CoronaVac in due course to prevent serious disease.
, Ella Mendelson, Areej Kabat, Virginia Levy, Batya Mannasse, Hadar Assraf, Roberto Azar, Yaniv Ali, Efrat Bucris, Dana Bar-Ilan, et al.
Microbiology Spectrum, Volume 10; https://doi.org/10.1128/spectrum.02176-21

Abstract:
The new assays described herein enable rapid, straightforward, and cost-effective detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SC-2) with immediate classification of the examined sample as Alpha, Delta, non-Alpha, or non-Delta variant. This is highly important for two main reasons: (i) it provides the scientific and medical community with a novel diagnostic tool to rapidly detect and classify any SC-2 sample of interest as Alpha, Delta, or none and can be applied to both clinical and environmental samples, and (ii) it demonstrates how to respond to the emergence of new variants of concern by developing a variant-specific assay.
, Pekka Kolehmainen, Anu Haveri, Moona Huttunen, Larissa Laine, , Paula A. Tähtinen, Lauri Ivaska, Sari Maljanen, Arttu Reinholm, et al.
Microbiology Spectrum, Volume 10; https://doi.org/10.1128/spectrum.02252-21

Abstract:
A decrease in vaccine efficacy against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants has increased the importance of assessing the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein-specific antibodies and neutralizing antibodies. Our data show that after 6 months post two doses of BNT162b2 vaccine, antibody levels decrease yet remain detectable and capable of neutralizing emerging variants. By monitoring the vaccine-induced antibody responses, vaccination strategies and administration of booster doses can be optimized.
Lena Mautner, Mona Hoyos, Alexandra Dangel, Carola Berger, Anja Ehrhardt,
Published: 26 April 2022
Virology Journal, Volume 19, pp 1-11; https://doi.org/10.1186/s12985-022-01802-5

Abstract:
Background: During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic caused by the emerging virus SARS-CoV-2, research in the field of coronaviruses has expanded tremendously. The genome of SARS-CoV-2 has rapidly acquired numerous mutations, giving rise to several Variants of Concern (VOCs) with altered epidemiological, immunological, and pathogenic properties. Methods: As cell culture models are important tools to study viruses, we investigated replication kinetics and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 in the African Green Monkey-derived Vero E6 kidney cell line and the two human cell lines Caco-2, a colon epithelial carcinoma cell line, and the airway epithelial carcinoma cell line Calu-3. We assessed viral RNA copy numbers and infectivity of viral particles in cell culture supernatants at different time points ranging from 2 to 96 h post-infection. Results: We here describe a systematic comparison of growth kinetics of the five SARS-CoV-2 VOCs Alpha/B.1.1.7, Beta/B.1.351, Gamma/P.1, Delta/B.1.617.2, and Omicron/B.1.1.529 and a non-VOC/B.1.1 strain on three different cell lines to provide profound information on the differential behaviour of VOCs in different cell lines for researchers worldwide. We show distinct differences in viral replication kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 non-VOC and five VOCs on the three cell culture models Vero E6, Caco-2, and Calu-3. Conclusion: This is the first systematic comparison of all SARS-CoV-2 VOCs on three different cell culture models. This data provides support for researchers worldwide in their experimental design for work on SARS-CoV-2. It is recommended to perform virus isolation and propagation on Vero E6 while infection studies or drug screening and antibody-based assays should rather be conducted on the human cell lines Caco-2 and Calu-3.
Priscilla S.-W. Yeung, , Mamdouh Sibai, Daniel Solis, Fumiko Yamamoto, Naomi Iwai, Becky Jiang, Nathan Hammond, Bernadette Truong, Selamawit Bihon, et al.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jcm.00178-22

Abstract:
The ability to distinguish between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern (VOCs) is of ongoing interest due to differences in transmissibility, responses to vaccination, clinical prognosis, and therapy. Although detailed genetic characterization requires whole-genome sequencing (WGS), targeted nucleic acid amplification tests can serve a complementary role in clinical settings, as they are more rapid and accessible than sequencing in most laboratories.
Du Du Guo, Huaichuan Duan, Yan Cheng, Yueteng Wang, , Hubing Shi
Published: 24 April 2022
Molecular Biomedicine, Volume 3, pp 1-18; https://doi.org/10.1186/s43556-022-00074-3

Abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is spreading globally and continues to rage, posing a serious threat to human health and life quality. Antibody therapy and vaccines both have shown great efficacy in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, whose development progress and adaptation range have attracted wide attention. However, with the emergence of variant strains of SARS-CoV-2, the neutralization activity of therapeutic or vaccine-induced antibodies may be reduced, requiring long-term virus monitoring and drug upgrade in response to its evolution. In this paper, conformational changes including continuous epitopes (CPs), discontinuous epitopes (DPs) and recognition interfaces of the three representative SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (SP) mutants (i.e., the Delta (B.1.617.2), Mu (B.1.621) and Omicron (B.1.1.529) strains), were analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness of current mainstream antibodies. The results showed that the conformation of SP wild type (WT) and mutants both remained stable, while the local antigenic epitopes underwent significant changes. Sufficient flexibility of SP CPs is critical for effective antibody recognition. The DPs of Delta, Mu and Omicron variants have showed stronger binding to human angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (hACE2) than WT; the possible drug resistance mechanisms of antibodies against three different epitopes (i.e., NTD_DP, RBD1_DP and RBD2_DP) were also proposed, respectively; the RBD2 of Delta, NTD of Mu, NTD and RBD2 of Omicron are deserve more attention in the subsequent design of next-generation vaccines. The simulation results not only revealed structural characteristics of SP antigenic epitopes, but also provided guidance for antibody modification, vaccine design and effectiveness evaluation.
Published: 24 April 2022
by MDPI
Viruses, Volume 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14050884

Abstract:
Introduction: The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has evolved into a worldwide outbreak, with significant molecular evolution over time. Large-scale phylodynamic studies allow to map the virus spread and inform preventive strategies. Aim: This study investigates the extent of binational dispersal and dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 lineages between seven border provinces of the adjacent countries of Poland and Germany to reconstruct SARS-CoV-2 transmission networks. Methods: Following three pandemic waves from March 2020 to the end of May 2021, we analysed a dataset of 19,994 sequences divided into B.1.1.7|Alpha and non-Alpha lineage groups. We performed phylogeographic analyses using the discrete diffusion models to identify the pathways of virus spread. Results: Based on population dynamics inferences, in total, 673 lineage introductions (95% HPD interval 641–712) for non-Alpha and 618 (95% HPD interval 599–639) for B.1.1.7|Alpha were identified in the area. For non-Alpha lineages, 5.05% binational, 86.63% exclusively German, and 8.32% Polish clusters were found, with a higher frequency of international clustering observed for B.1.1.7|Alpha (13.11% for binational, 68.44% German and 18.45% Polish, p < 0.001). We identified key transmission hubs for the analysed lineages, namely Saxony, West Pomerania and Lower Silesia. Conclusions: Clustering patterns between Poland and Germany reflect the viral variant transmission dynamics at the international level in the borderline area. Tracing the spread of the virus between two adjacent large European countries may provide a basis for future intervention policies in cross-border cooperation efforts against the spread of the pandemics.
Published: 21 April 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
(1) Background: Some COVID-19 vaccine recipients show breakthrough infection. It remains unknown, which factors contribute to risks and severe outcomes. Our aim was to identify risk factors for SCoV2 breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated individuals. (2) Methods: We conducted a retrospective case-control study from 28 December 2020 to 25 October 2021. Data of all patients with breakthrough infection was compared to data of all vaccine recipients in the Canton of Basel-City, Switzerland. Further, breakthrough infections by Alpha- and Delta-variants were compared. (3) Results: Only 0.39% (488/126,586) of all vaccine recipients suffered from a breakthrough infection during the observational period, whereof most cases were asymptomatic or mild (97.2%). Breakthrough infections after full vaccination occurred in the median after 78 days (IQR 47-123.5). Factors with lower odds for breakthrough infection were age (OR 0.987) and previous COVID-19 infection prior to vaccination (OR 0.296). Factors with higher odds for breakthrough infection included vaccination with Pfizer/BioNTech instead of Moderna (OR 1.459), chronic disease (OR 2.109), and healthcare workers (OR 1.404). (4) Conclusions: Breakthrough infections are rare and mild but can occur early after vaccination. This implies that booster vaccination might be initiated earlier, especially for risk groups. Due to new variants emerging repeatedly, continuous monitoring of breakthrough infections is crucial.
Houriiyah Tegally, James E. San, , Bryan Tegomoh, Gerald Mboowa, Darren P. Martin, Cheryl Baxter, Monika Moir, Arnold Lambisia, Amadou Diallo, et al.
Published: 20 April 2022
Abstract:
Investment in Africa over the past year with regards to SARS-CoV-2 genotyping has led to a massive increase in the number of sequences, exceeding 100,000 genomes generated to track the pandemic on the continent. Our results show an increase in the number of African countries able to sequence within their own borders, coupled with a decrease in sequencing turnaround time. Findings from this genomic surveillance underscores the heterogeneous nature of the pandemic but we observe repeated dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 variants within the continent. Sustained investment for genomic surveillance in Africa is needed as the virus continues to evolve, particularly in the low vaccination landscape. These investments are very crucial for preparedness and response for future pathogen outbreaks. One-Sentence Summary Expanding Africa SARS-CoV-2 sequencing capacity in a fast evolving pandemic.
Lianlian Bian, Jianyang Liu, Fan Gao, Qiushuang Gao, Qian He, Qunying Mao, Xing Wu, Miao Xu,
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics pp 1-12; https://doi.org/10.1080/21645515.2022.2057161

Abstract:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to circulate worldwide and a variety of variants have emerged. Variants of concern (VOC) designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) have triggered epidemic waves due to their strong infectivity or pathogenicity and potential immune escape, among other reasons. Although large-scale vaccination campaigns undertaken globally have contributed to the improved control of SARS-CoV-2, the efficacies of current vaccines against VOCs have declined to various degrees. In particular, the highly infectious Delta and Omicron variants have caused recent epidemics and prompted concerns about control measures. This review summarizes current VOCs, the protective efficacy of vaccines against VOCs, and the shortcomings in methods for evaluating vaccine efficacy. In addition, strategies for responding to variants are proposed for future epidemic prevention and control as well as for vaccine research and development.
Ankita Leekha, Arash Saeedi, Monish Kumar, Samiur Rahman Sefat, Melisa Martinez-Paniagua, Mohsen Fathi, Rohan Kulkarni, Sujit Biswas, Daphne Tsitoura, Xinli Liu, et al.
Published: 19 April 2022
Abstract:
Respiratory viral infections, especially Influenza (endemic) or SARS-CoV-2 (pandemic since 2020), cause morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite remarkable progress in the development and deployment of vaccines, they are clearly impacted by the rapid emergence of viral variants. The development of an off-the-shelf, effective, safe, and low-cost drug for prophylaxis against respiratory viral infections is a major unmet medical need. Here, we developed NanoSTING, a liposomally encapsulated formulation of the endogenous STING agonist, 2’-3’ cGAMP, to function as an immunoantiviral. NanoSTING rapidly activates the body’s innate immune system to facilitate a broad-spectrum antiviral response against SARS-CoV-2 and influenza variants in hamsters and mice. We demonstrate that a single intranasal dose of NanoSTING can: (1) treat infections throughout the respiratory system and minimize clinical symptoms, (2) protect against highly pathogenic strains of SARS-CoV-2 (alpha and delta), (3) provide durable protection against reinfection from the same strains without the need for retreatment, (4) prevent transmission of the highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 Omicron strain, and (5) provide protection against both oseltamivir-sensitive and resistant strains of influenza. Mechanistically, administration of NanoSTING rapidly upregulated interferon-stimulated and antiviral pathways in both the nasal turbinates and lung. Our results support using NanoSTING as a thermostable, immunoantiviral with broad-spectrum antiviral properties making it appealing as a therapeutic for prophylactic or early post-exposure treatment.
, Thomas H. Segall-Shapiro, Chia-Wei Chou, Daniel R. Boutz, Randall J. Olsen, , Hongjie Xia, Pei-Yong Shi, Charlie D. Johnson, Ankur Annapareddy, et al.
Published: 18 April 2022
Abstract:
Summary: The worldwide spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to the repeated emergence of variants of concern. The Omicron variant has two dominant sub-lineages, BA.1 and BA.2, each with unprecedented numbers of nonsynonymous and indel spike protein mutations: 33 and 29, respectively. Some of these mutations individually increase transmissibility and enhance immune evasion, but their interactions within the Omicron mutational background is unknown. We characterize the molecular effects of all Omicron spike mutations on expression, human ACE2 receptor affinity, and neutralizing antibody recognition. We show that key mutations enable escape from neutralizing antibodies at a variety of epitopes. Stabilizing mutations in the N-terminal and S2 domains of the spike protein compensate for destabilizing mutations in the receptor binding domain, thereby enabling the record number of mutations in Omicron sub-lineages. Taken together, our results provide a comprehensive account of the mutational effects in the Omicron spike protein and illuminate previously unknown mechanisms of how the N-terminal domain can compensate for destabilizing mutations within the more evolutionarily constrained RBD.
Recep E. Ahan, Alireza Hanifehnezhad, Ebru Ş. Kehribar, Tuba C. Oguzoglu, Katalin Földes, Cemile E. Özçelik, Nazlican Filazi, Sıdıka Öztop, , Sevgen Önder, et al.
, Nathan J. Stevenson, Robyn M. Stuart, Romesh G. Abeysuriya, James C. Pang, Stephen B. Lambert, Cliff C. Kerr, James A. Roberts
Published: 15 April 2022
Scientific Reports, Volume 12, pp 1-9; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-10349-y

Abstract:
We used an agent-based model Covasim to assess the risk of sustained community transmission of SARSCoV-2/COVID-19 in Queensland (Australia) in the presence of high-transmission variants of the virus. The model was calibrated using the demographics, policies, and interventions implemented in the state. Then, using the calibrated model, we simulated possible epidemic trajectories that could eventuate due to leakage of infected cases with high-transmission variants, during a period without recorded cases of locally acquired infections, known in Australian settings as “zero community transmission”. We also examined how the threat of new variants reduces given a range of vaccination levels. Specifically, the model calibration covered the first-wave period from early March 2020 to May 2020. Predicted epidemic trajectories were simulated from early February 2021 to late March 2021. Our simulations showed that one infected agent with the ancestral (A.2.2) variant has a 14% chance of crossing a threshold of sustained community transmission (SCT) (i.e., > 5 infections per day, more than 3 days in a row), assuming no change in the prevailing preventative and counteracting policies. However, one agent carrying the alpha (B.1.1.7) variant has a 43% chance of crossing the same threshold; a threefold increase with respect to the ancestral strain; while, one agent carrying the delta (B.1.617.2) variant has a 60% chance of the same threshold, a fourfold increase with respect to the ancestral strain. The delta variant is 50% more likely to trigger SCT than the alpha variant. Doubling the average number of daily tests from ∼ 6,000 to 12,000 results in a decrease of this SCT probability from 43 to 33% for the alpha variant. However, if the delta variant is circulating we would need an average of 100,000 daily tests to achieve a similar decrease in SCT risk. Further, achieving a full-vaccination coverage of 70% of the adult population, with a vaccine with 70% effectiveness against infection, would decrease the probability of SCT from a single seed of alpha from 43 to 20%, on par with the ancestral strain in a naive population. In contrast, for the same vaccine coverage and same effectiveness, the probability of SCT from a single seed of delta would decrease from 62 to 48%, a risk slightly above the alpha variant in a naive population. Our results demonstrate that the introduction of even a small number of people infected with high-transmission variants dramatically increases the probability of sustained community transmission in Queensland. Until very high vaccine coverage is achieved, a swift implementation of policies and interventions, together with high quarantine adherence rates, will be required to minimise the probability of sustained community transmission.
Xiang Liu, Helen Mostafavi, Wern Hann Ng, Joseph R. Freitas, , , ,
Published: 14 April 2022
Abstract:
SARS-CoV-2 variants, with the threat of increased transmissibility, infectivity, and immune escape, continue to emerge as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Detailing the pathogenesis of disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 variants, such as Delta, is essential to better understand the clinical threat caused by emerging variants and associated disease.
Ayman Al Jurdi, Rodrigo B. Gassen, Thiago J. Borges, Isadora T. Lape, Leela Morena, Orhan Efe, Zhabiz Solhjou, Rania El Fekih, Christa Deban, Brigid Bohan, et al.
Published: 13 April 2022
Published: 12 April 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic has led the world to undertake the largest vaccination campaign in human history. In record time, unprecedented scientific and governmental efforts have resulted in the acquisition of immunizers utilizing different technologies (nucleotide acids, viral vectors, inactivated and protein-based vaccines). Currently, 33 vaccines have already been approved by regulatory agencies in different countries, and more than 10 billion doses have been administered worldwide. Despite the undeniable impact of vaccination on the control of the pandemic, the recurrent emergence of new variants of interest has raised new challenges. The recent viral mutations precede new outbreaks that rapidly spread at global proportions. In addition, reducing protective efficacy rates have been observed among the main authorized vaccines. Besides these issues, several other crucial issues for the appropriate combatting of the pandemic remain uncertain or under investigation. Particularly noteworthy issues include the use of vaccine-boosting strategies to increase protection; concerns related to the long-term safety of vaccines, child immunization reliability and uncommon adverse events; the persistence of the virus in society; and the transition from a pandemic to an endemic state. In this review, we describe the updated scenario regarding SARS-CoV-2 variants and COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, we outline current discussions covering COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy, and the future pandemic perspectives.
Puspangana Singh, Shreya Mukherji, Swarnendu Basak, Markus Hoffmann,
Published: 8 April 2022
The publisher has not yet granted permission to display this abstract.
, Jianming Lu, Wendy Fitzgerald, Fei Zhou, Paul S. Blank, ,
Published: 8 April 2022
Abstract:
Individuals infected with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, lineage B.1.617.2, exhibit faster initial infection with a higher viral load than prior variants, and pseudotyped particles bearing the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant spike protein induce a faster initial infection rate of target cells compared to those bearing other SARS-CoV-2 variant spikes. Here, we show that pseudotyped particles bearing the Delta variant spike form unique aggregates, as evidenced by negative stain and cryogenic electron microscopy (EM), flow cytometry, and nanoparticle tracking analysis. Viral particles pseudotyped with other SARS-CoV-2 spike variants do not show aggregation by any of these criteria. The contribution to infection kinetics of the Delta spike’s unique property to aggregate is discussed with respect to recent evidence for collective infection by other viruses. Irrespective of this intriguing possibility, spike-dependent aggregation is a new functional parameter of spike-expressing viral particles to evaluate in future spike protein variants.
Published: 8 April 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has lasted for more than two years. Despite the presence of very effective vaccines, the number of virus variants that escape neutralizing antibodies is growing. Thus, there is still a need for effective antiviral treatments that target virus replication independently of the circulating variant. Here, we show for the first time that deficiency or pharmacological inhibition of the cellular lysine-methyltransferase SMYD2 decreases TMPRSS2 expression on both mRNA and protein levels. SARS-CoV-2 uses TMPRSS2 for priming its spike protein to infect target cells. Treatment of cultured cells with the SMYD2 inhibitors AZ505 or BAY598 significantly inhibited viral replication. In contrast, treatment of Vero E6 cells, which do not express detectable amounts of TMPRSS2, had no effect on SARS-CoV-2 infection. Moreover, by generating a recombinant reporter virus that expresses the spike protein of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, we demonstrate that BAY598 exhibits similar antiviral activity against this variant of concern. In summary, SMYD2 inhibition downregulates TMPRSS2 and blocks viral replication. Targeting cellular SMYD2 represents a promising tool to curtail SARS-CoV-2 infection.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23074062

Abstract:
The nasal epithelium is a key portal for infection by respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and represents an important target for prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. In the present study, we test the safety and efficacy of a newly developed nasal spray (AM-301, marketed as Bentrio) against infection by SARS-CoV-2 and its Delta variant on an in vitro 3D-model of the primary human nasal airway epithelium. Safety was assessed in assays for tight junction integrity, cytotoxicity and cilia beating frequency. Efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection was evaluated in pre-viral load and post-viral load application on airway epithelium. No toxic effects of AM-301 on the nasal epithelium were found. Prophylactic treatment with AM-301 significantly reduced viral titer vs. controls over 4 days, reaching a maximum reduction of 99% in case of infection from the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 variant and more than 83% in case of the Delta variant. When AM-301 administration was started 24 h after infection, viral titer was reduced by about 12-folds and 3-folds on Day 4. The results suggest that AM-301 is safe and significantly decelerates SARS-CoV-2 replication in cell culture inhibition assays of prophylaxis (pre-viral load application) and mitigation (post-viral load application). Its physical (non-pharmaceutical) mechanism of action, safety and efficacy warrant additional investigations both in vitro and in vivo for safety and efficacy against a broad spectrum of airborne viruses and allergens.
Vasileios Pierros, Evangelos Kontopodis, Dimitrios J. Stravopodis,
Published: 4 April 2022
The publisher has not yet granted permission to display this abstract.
Published: 4 April 2022
Abstract:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a pandemic resulting in millions of deaths worldwide. Increasingly contagious variants of concern (VoC) have fueled recurring global infection waves. A major question is the relative severity of disease caused by the previous and currently circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2. In this study, we evaluated the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 variants in human ACE-2-expressing (K18-hACE2) mice. Eight-week-old K18-hACE2 mice were inoculated intranasally with a representative virus from the original B.1 lineage, or the emerging B.1.1.7 (alpha), B.1.351 (beta), B.1.617.2 (delta) or B.1.1.529 (omicron) lineages. We also infected a group of mice with the mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 (MA10). Our results demonstrate that B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and B.1.617.2 viruses are significantly more lethal than B.1 strain in K18-hACE2 mice. Infection with B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and B.1.617.2 variants resulted in significantly higher virus titers in the lungs and brain of mice compared to the B.1 virus. Interestingly, mice infected with the B.1.1.529 variant exhibited less severe clinical signs and high survival rate. We found that B.1.1.529 replication was significantly lower in the lungs and brain of infected mice in comparison to other VoC. Transcription levels of cytokines and chemokines in the lungs of the B.1.1.529-infected mice were significantly less when compared to those challenged with the B.1.1.7 virus. Together, our data provide insights into the pathogenesis of the previous and circulating SARS-CoV-2 VoC in mice.
Published: 4 April 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The emergence of a highly transmissible and a more pathogenic B.1.617.2 (delta) variant of SARS-CoV-2 has brought concern over COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and the increased risk of severe breakthrough infections. The objective of this study was to assess the frequency and the clinical characteristics of severe breakthrough COVID-19 cases recorded in 10 Polish healthcare units between 1 June and 31 December 2021, a period during which a rapid surge in the share of B.1.617.2 infections was seen, while a significant number of populations were already fully vaccinated. Overall, 723 individuals who completed the initial vaccination regime (fully vaccinated group) and an additional 18 who received a booster dose were identified—together, they represented 20.8% of all the COVID-19 patients hospitalized during the same period in the same healthcare institutions (0.5% in the case of a group that received a booster dose). Although laboratory and clinical parameters did not differ between both groups, patients who received a booster tended to have lower CRP, IL-6, PCT, and d-dimer levels and they required oxygen therapy less frequently. The most common early COVID-19 symptoms in the studied group were fatigue, cough, fever (>38 °C), and dyspnea. Individuals with no detectable anti-spike IgG antibodies constituted 13%; the odds of being a humoral non-responder to the vaccine were increased in patients aged >70 years. Fully vaccinated patients hospitalized after more than 180 days from the last vaccine dose were significantly older and they were predominantly represented by individuals over 70 years and with comorbidities, particularly cardiovascular disease. Contrary to mRNA vaccines, most patients vaccinated with adenoviral vector vaccines were infected within six months. A total of 102 fatal cases (14% of all deaths among vaccinated individuals; 0.7% in the case of a group that received a booster dose) were recorded, representing 17.6% of all the COVID-19 fatalities recorded in June–December 2021 in the considered healthcare units. The odds of death were significantly increased in men, individuals aged >70 years, patients with comorbidities, and those identified as humoral non-responders to vaccination; in fully vaccinated patients the odds were also increased when the second vaccine dose was given >180 days before the first COVID-19 symptoms. The mortality rate in immunocompromised subjects was 19%. The results indicate that compared to vaccinated individuals, severe COVID-19 and deaths in the unvaccinated group were significantly more prevalent during the B.1.617.2-dominated wave in Poland; and, it highlight the protective role of a booster dose, particularly for more vulnerable individuals.
Izumi Kimura, Daichi Yamasoba, Hesham Nasser, Jiri Zahradnik, Yusuke Kosugi, Jiaqi Wu, Kayoko Nagata, Keiya Uriu, Yuri L Tanaka, Jumpei Ito, et al.
Published: 3 April 2022
Abstract:
Recent studies have revealed the unique virological characteristics of Omicron, the newest SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, such as pronounced resistance to vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies, less efficient cleavage of the spike protein, and poor fusogenicity. However, it remains unclear which mutation(s) in the spike protein determine the virological characteristics of Omicron. Here, we show that the representative characteristics of the Omicron spike are determined by its receptor-binding domain. Interestingly, the molecular phylogenetic analysis revealed that the acquisition of the spike S375F mutation was closely associated with the explosive spread of Omicron in the human population. We further elucidate that the F375 residue forms an interprotomer pi-pi interaction with the H505 residue in another protomer in the spike trimer, which confers the attenuated spike cleavage efficiency and fusogenicity of Omicron. Our data shed light on the evolutionary events underlying Omicron emergence at the molecular level. Highlights Omicron spike receptor binding domain determines virological characteristics Spike S375F mutation results in the poor spike cleavage and fusogenicity in Omicron Acquisition of the spike S375F mutation triggered the explosive spread of Omicron F375-H505-mediated π-π interaction in the spike determines the phenotype of Omicron
Ruofan Li, Michael Mor, Bingting Ma, Alex E. Clark, Joel Alter, Michal Werbner, Jamie Casey Lee, Sandra L. Leibel, , Moshe Dessau, et al.
Published: 3 April 2022
Abstract:
As new variants of SARS-CoV-2 continue to emerge, it is important to assess the neutralizing capabilities of naturally elicited antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. In the present study, we evaluated the activity of nine anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), previously isolated from convalescent donors infected with the Wuhan-Hu-1 strain, against the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron. By testing an array of mutated spike receptor binding domain (RBD) proteins, cell-expressed spike proteins from VOCs, and neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs as pseudoviuses, or as the authentic viruses in culture, we show that mAbs directed against the ACE2 binding site (ACE2bs) are far more sensitive to viral evolution compared to anti-RBD non-ACE2bs mAbs, two of which kept their potency against all VOCs tested. At the second part of our study, we reveal the neutralization mechanisms at high molecular resolution of two anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing mAbs by structural characterization. We solved the structures of the Delta-neutralizing ACE2bs mAb TAU-2303 with the SARS-CoV-2 spike trimer and RBD at 4.5 Å and 2.42 Å, respectively, revealing a similar mode of binding to that between the RBD and the ACE2 receptor. Furthermore, we provide five additional structures (at resolutions of 5.54 Å, 7.76 Å, 6.47 Å, 3.45 Å, and 7.32 Å) of a second antibody, non-ACE2bs mAb TAU-2212, complexed with the SARS-CoV-2 spike trimer. TAU-2212 binds an exclusively quaternary epitope, and exhibits a unique, flexible mode of neutralization that involves transitioning between five different conformations, with both arms of the antibody recruited for cross linking intra- and inter-spike RBD subunits. Our study provides new mechanistic insights about how antibodies neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants and provides insight about the likelihood of reinfections.
John P. Evans, Cong Zeng, Panke Qu, Julia Faraone, Yi-Min Zheng, Claire Carlin, Joseph S. Bednash, Tongqing Zhou, Gerard Lozanski, Rama Mallampalli, et al.
Published: 1 April 2022
Fu Li, Zhichao Liang, Shujuan Cui, Bing Lv, Zhaomin Feng, Hui Xu, Lei Jia, Peng Yang, Quanyi Wang, Yang Pan, et al.
Published: 1 April 2022
, Mark M. Painter, Kendall A. Lundgreen, Sokratis A. Apostolidis, Amy E. Baxter, Josephine R. Giles, Divij Mathew, Ajinkya Pattekar, Arnold Reynaldi, David S. Khoury, et al.
Published: 1 April 2022
Jiajie Zhu, Haiyan Zhang, Qinghong Lin, Jingting Lyu, Lu Lu, Hanxi Chen, Xuning Zhang, Yanjun Zhang,
Drug Design, Development and Therapy, pp 1067-1082; https://doi.org/10.2147/dddt.s359009

Abstract:
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, Lidia Sánchez-Morales, Marta Pérez-Sancho, Lucas Domínguez, José M. Sánchez-Vizcaíno
Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Volume 9; https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2022.841430

Abstract:
Natural and experimental SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets has been widely evidenced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the numerous affected animals, cats are one of the most susceptible species. However, little is known about viral pathogenicity and transmissibility in the case of variants of concern (VOCs) in animal hosts, such as the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant first detected in India. Here, we have identified the B.1.617.2 (Delta) VOC in a cat living with a COVID-19 positive owner. The animal presented mild symptoms (sneezing) and a high viral load was detected in the oropharyngeal swab, suggesting that an active infection was occurring in the upper respiratory tract of the cat. Transmission from the owner to the cat occurred despite the human being fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. This study documents the first detection of B.1.165.2 VOC in a cat in Spain and emphasizes the importance of performing active surveillance and genomic investigation on infected animals.
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