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Construction of a potent pan-vaccine based on the evolutionary tendency of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

By Yongliang Zhao, Wenjia Ni, Simeng Liang, Lianghui Dong, Min Xiang, Zeng Cai, Danping Niu, Qiuhan Zhang, Dehe Wang, Yucheng Zheng, Zhen Zhang, Dan Zhou, Wenhua Guo, Yongbing Pan, Xiaoli Wu, Yimin Yang, Zhaofei Jing, Yongzhong Jiang, SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Task Force Group, Yu Chen, Huan Yan, Yu Zhou, Ke Xu, Ke Lan

Posted 23 Dec 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.21.473594

SARS-CoV-2 continued to spread globally along with different variants. Here, we systemically analyzed viral infectivity and immune-resistance of SARS-CoV-2 variants to explore the underlying rationale of viral mutagenesis. We found that the Beta variant harbors both high infectivity and strong immune resistance, while the Delta variant is the most infectious with only a mild immune-escape ability. Remarkably, the Omicron variant is even more immune-resistant than the Beta variant, but its infectivity increases only in Vero E6 cells implying a probable preference for the endocytic pathway. A comprehensive analysis revealed that SARS-CoV-2 spike protein evolved into distinct evolutionary paths of either high infectivity plus low immune resistance or low infectivity plus high immune resistance, resulting in a narrow spectrum of the current single-strain vaccine. In light of these findings and the phylogenetic analysis of 2674 SARS-CoV-2 S-protein sequences, we generated a consensus antigen (S6) taking the most frequent mutations as a pan-vaccine against heterogeneous variants. As compared to the ancestry SWT vaccine with significantly declined neutralizations to emerging variants, the S6 vaccine elicits broadly neutralizing antibodies and full protections to a wide range of variants. Our work highlights the importance and feasibility of a universal vaccine strategy to fight against antigen drift of SARS-CoV-2.

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