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Modular basis for potent SARS-CoV-2 neutralization by a prevalent VH1-2-derived antibody class

By Micah Rapp, Yicheng Guo, Eswar Reddy Reddem, Lihong Liu, Pengfei Wang, Jian Yu, Gabriele Cerutti, Jude Bimela, Fabiana Bahna, Seetha Mannepalli, Baoshan Zhang, Peter D Kwong, David D Ho, Lawrence Shapiro, Zizhang Sheng

Posted 11 Jan 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.11.426218

Antibodies with heavy chains that derive from the VH1-2 gene constitute some of the most potent SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies yet identified. To provide insight into whether these genetic similarities inform common modes of recognition, we determined structures of the SARS-CoV-2 spike in complex with three VH1-2-derived antibodies: 2-15, 2-43, and H4. All three utilized VH1-2-encoded motifs to recognize the receptor-binding domain (RBD), with heavy chain N53I enhancing binding and light chain tyrosines recognizing F486RBD. Despite these similarities, class members bound both RBD up and down conformations of the spike, with a subset of antibodies utilizing elongated CDRH3s to recognize glycan N343 on a neighboring RBD - a quaternary interaction accommodated by an increase in RBD separation of up to 12 angstrom. The VH1-2-antibody class thus utilizes modular recognition encoded by modular genetic elements to effect potent neutralization, with VH-gene component specifying recognition of RBD and CDRH3 component specifying quaternary interactions.

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