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February 2022

SARS-CoV-2 Omicron-neutralizing memory B-cells are elicited by two doses of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine.

Sci Immunol. 2022 Feb 3:eabn8590. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abn8590. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35113654.


Kotaki R, Adachi Y, Moriyama S, Onodera T, Fukushi S, Nagakura T, Tonouchi K, Terahara K, Sun L, Takano T, Nishiyama A, Shinkai M, Oba K, Nakamura-Uchiyama F, Shimizu H, Suzuki T, Matsumura T, Isogawa M, Takahashi Y. 


Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants possess mutations in the spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) with potential to evade neutralizing antibody. In particular, the Beta and Omicron variants escape from antibody neutralizing activity in those who received two doses of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. Nonetheless, boosting with a third vaccine dose or by breakthrough infection improves the overall breadth of the neutralizing antibodies, but the mechanism remains unclear. Here, we longitudinally profiled the cellular composition of RBD-binding memory B cell subsets and their antibody binding and neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 variants following the second dose of mRNA vaccine. Two doses of the mRNA vaccine elicited plasma neutralizing antibodies with a limited activity against Beta and Omicron but induced an expanded antibody breadth overtime, up to 4.9 months post vaccination. In contrast, more than one third of RBD-binding IgG+ memory B cells with a resting phenotype initially bound the Beta and Omicron variants and steadily increased the B cell receptor (BCR) breadth overtime. As a result, a fraction of the resting memory B cell subset secreted Beta and Omicron-neutralizing antibody when stimulated in vitro. The neutralizing breadth of the resting memory B cell subset helps us understand the prominent recall of Omicron-neutralizing antibodies after an additional booster or breakthrough infection in fully vaccinated individuals.