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Single-component, self-assembling, protein nanoparticles presenting the receptor binding domain and stabilized spike as SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates

By Linling He, Xiaohe Lin, Ying Wang, Ciril Abraham, Cindy Sou, Timothy Ngo, Yi Zhang, Ian A. Wilson, Jiang Zhu

Posted 14 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.14.296715

Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 provides an effective tool to combat the COIVD-19 pandemic. Here, we combined antigen optimization and nanoparticle display to develop vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2. We first displayed the receptor-binding domain (RBD) on three self-assembling protein nanoparticle (SApNP) platforms using the SpyTag/SpyCatcher system. We then identified heptad repeat 2 (HR2) in S2 as the cause of spike metastability, designed an HR2-deleted glycine-capped spike (S2G{Delta}HR2), and displayed S2G{Delta}HR2 on SApNPs. An antibody column specific for the RBD enabled tag-free vaccine purification. In mice, the 24-meric RBD-ferritin SApNP elicited a more potent neutralizing antibody (NAb) response than the RBD alone and the spike with two stabilizing proline mutations in S2 (S2P). S2G{Delta}HR2 elicited two-fold-higher NAb titers than S2P, while S2G{Delta}HR2 SApNPs derived from multilayered E2p and I3-01v9 60-mers elicited up to 10-fold higher NAb titers. The S2G{Delta}HR2-presenting I3-01v9 SApNP also induced critically needed T-cell immunity, thereby providing a promising vaccine candidate.

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