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One-shot identification of SARS-CoV-2 S RBD escape mutants using yeast screening

By Irene Francino Urdaniz, Paul J Steiner, Monica Kirby, Fangzhu Zhao, Cyrus M Haas, Shawn Barman, Emily R Rhodes, Linghang Peng, Kayla Sprenger, Joseph Jardine, Timothy A. Whitehead

Posted 15 Mar 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.15.435309

The potential emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) escape mutants is a threat to reduce the efficacy of existing vaccines and neutralizing antibody (nAb) therapies. An understanding of the antibody/S escape mutations landscape is urgently needed to preemptively address this threat. Here we describe a rapid method to identify escape mutants for nAbs targeting the S receptor binding site. We identified escape mutants for five nAbs, including three from the public germline class VH3-53 elicited by natural COVID-19 infection. Escape mutations predominantly mapped to the periphery of the ACE2 recognition site on the RBD with K417, D420, Y421, F486, and Q493 as notable hotspots. We provide libraries, methods, and software as an openly available community resource to accelerate new therapeutic strategies against SARS-CoV-2.

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