One of the biggest concerns in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the potential emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants that evade immunity. A report in Science now presents a comprehensive map of antibody binding sites of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which was generated using several hundred monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Among 186 mAbs targeted at the receptor binding domain (RBD) of spike, the authors (a global consortium) identified seven mAb communities with distinctive footprints and competition profiles. Using pseudovirion-based neutralization assays to test mAb binding to mutant spike proteins (with either individual mutations or combinations of mutations, including those corresponding to variants α–ε), they were able to identify key classes of RBD-targeted antibodies that maintained neutralization activity against these mutants. The study may allow to predict and interpret the effect of new mutations and inform the selection of antibody cocktails against new variants.
Hastie, K. M., Lie, H. et al. Defining variant-resistant epitopes targeted by SARS-CoV-2 antibodies: a global consortium study. Science https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abh2315 (2021)
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Flemming, A. Epitope mapping of spike identifies variant-resistant antibodies. Nat Rev Immunol 21, 693 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-021-00637-5