SARS-CoV-2 immune evasion by variant B.1.427/B.1.429
Anna De Marco,
Alexandra C Walls,
Julia di Iulio,
M. Alejandra Tortorici,
John E. Bowen,
Sasha W Tiles,
Matteo Samuele Pizzuto,
Sonja Bernasconi Guastalla,
Wesley C Van Voorhis,
Laura E. Rosen,
Gyorgy C Snell,
Herbert W Virgin,
Posted 01 Apr 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.31.437925
Posted 01 Apr 2021
SARS-CoV-2 entry is mediated by the spike (S) glycoprotein which contains the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the N-terminal domain (NTD) as the two main targets of neutralizing antibodies (Abs). A novel variant of concern (VOC) named CAL.20C (B.1.427/B.1.429) was originally detected in California and is currently spreading throughout the US and 29 additional countries. It is unclear whether antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection or to the prototypic Wuhan-1 isolate-based vaccines will be impacted by the three B.1.427/B.1.429 S mutations: S13I, W152C and L452R. Here, we assessed neutralizing Ab responses following natural infection or mRNA vaccination using pseudoviruses expressing the wildtype or the B.1.427/B.1.429 S protein. Plasma from vaccinated or convalescent individuals exhibited neutralizing titers, which were reduced 3-6 fold against the B.1.427/B.1.429 variant relative to wildtype pseudoviruses. The RBD L452R mutation reduced or abolished neutralizing activity of 14 out of 35 RBD-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), including three clinical-stage mAbs. Furthermore, we observed a complete loss of B.1.427/B.1.429 neutralization for a panel of mAbs targeting the N-terminal domain due to a large structural rearrangement of the NTD antigenic supersite involving an S13I-mediated shift of the signal peptide cleavage site. These data warrant closer monitoring of signal peptide variants and their involvement in immune evasion and show that Abs directed to the NTD impose a selection pressure driving SARS-CoV-2 viral evolution through conventional and unconventional escape mechanisms.
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