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August 2021

SARS-CoV-2 RBD antibodies that maximize breadth and resistance to escape

Nature. 2021 Jul 14. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03807-6. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34261126.


Starr TN, Czudnochowski N, Liu Z, Zatta F, Park YJ, Addetia A, Pinto D, Beltramello M, Hernandez P, Greaney AJ, Marzi R, Glass WG, Zhang I, Dingens AS, Bowen JE, Tortorici MA, Walls AC, Wojcechowskyj JA, De Marco A, Rosen LE, Zhou J, Montiel-Ruiz M, Kaiser H, Dillen J, Tucker H, Bassi J, Silacci-Fregni C, Housley MP, di Iulio J, Lombardo G, Agostini M, Sprugasci N, Culap K, Jaconi S, Meury M, Dellota E, Abdelnabi R, Foo SC, Cameroni E, Stumpf S, Croll TI, Nix JC, Havenar-Daughton C, Piccoli L, Benigni F, Neyts J, Telenti A, Lempp FA, Pizzuto MS, Chodera JD, Hebner CM, Virgin HW, Whelan SPJ, Veesler D, Corti D, Bloom JD, Snell G.   


An ideal anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody would resist viral escape, have activity against diverse SARS-related coronaviruses (sarbecoviruses), and be highly protective through viral neutralization and effector functions. Understanding how these properties relate to each other and vary across epitopes would aid development of antibody therapeutics and guide vaccine design. Here, we comprehensively characterize escape, breadth, and potency across a panel of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies targeting the receptor-binding domain (RBD). Despite a tradeoff between in vitro neutralization potency and breadth of sarbecovirus binding, we identify neutralizing antibodies with exceptional sarbecovirus breadth and a corresponding resistance to SARS-CoV-2 escape. One of these antibodies, S2H97, binds with high affinity across all sarbecovirus clades to a previously undescribed cryptic epitope and prophylactically protects hamsters from viral challenge. Antibodies targeting the ACE2 receptor binding motif (RBM) typically have poor breadth and are readily escaped by mutations despite high neutralization potency. Nevertheless, we characterize one potent RBM antibody (S2E128) with breadth across sarbecoviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 and a high barrier to viral escape. These data highlight principles underlying variation in escape, breadth, and potency among antibodies targeting the RBD, and identify epitopes and features to prioritize for therapeutic development against the current and potential future pandemics.