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Potent human neutralizing antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection

By Bin Ju, Qi Zhang, Xiangyang Ge, Ruoke Wang, Jiazhen Yu, Sisi Shan, Bing Zhou, Shuo Song, Xian Tang, Jinfang Yu, Jiwan Ge, Jun Lan, Jing Yuan, Haiyan Wang, Juanjuan Zhao, Shuye Zhang, Youchun Wang, Xuanling Shi, Lei Liu, Xinquan Wang, Zheng Zhang, Linqi Zhang

Posted 25 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.21.990770 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2380-z)

The pandemic caused by emerging coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 presents a serious global public health emergency in urgent need of prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. SARS-CoV-2 cellular entry depends on binding between the viral Spike protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) target cell receptor. Here, we report on the isolation and characterization of 206 RBD-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) derived from single B cells of eight SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals. These mAbs come from diverse families of antibody heavy and light chains without apparent enrichment for particular families in the repertoire. In samples from one patient selected for further analyses, we found coexistence of germline and germline divergent clones. Both clone types demonstrated impressive binding and neutralizing activity against pseudovirus and live SARS-CoV-2. However, the antibody neutralizing potency is determined by competition with ACE2 receptor for RBD binding. Surprisingly, none of the SARS-CoV-2 antibodies nor the infected plasma cross-reacted with RBDs from either SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV although substantial plasma cross-reactivity to the trimeric Spike proteins from SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV was found. These results suggest that antibody response to RBDs is viral species-specific while that cross-recognition target regions outside the RBD. The specificity and neutralizing characteristics of this plasma cross-reactivity requires further investigation. Nevertheless, the diverse and potent neutralizing antibodies identified here are promising candidates for prophylactic and therapeutic SARS-CoV-2 interventions.

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