Landscape analysis of escape variants identifies SARS-CoV-2 spike mutations that attenuate monoclonal and serum antibody neutralization.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Zhuoming LiuSean P J Whelan


Although neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein are a goal of most COVID-19 vaccines and being developed as therapeutics, escape mutations could compromise such countermeasures. To define the immune-mediated mutational landscape in S protein, we used a VSV-eGFP-SARS-CoV-2-S chimeric virus and 19 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against the receptor binding domain (RBD) to generate 48 escape mutants. These variants were mapped onto the RBD structure and evaluated for cross-resistance by convalescent human plasma. Although each mAb had unique resistance profiles, many shared residues within an epitope, as several variants were resistant to multiple mAbs. Remarkably, we identified mutants that escaped neutralization by convalescent human sera, suggesting that some humans induce a narrow repertoire of neutralizing antibodies. By comparing the antibody-mediated mutational landscape in S protein with sequence variation in circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains, we identified single amino acid substitutions that could attenuate neutralizing immune responses in some humans.

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