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A vaccine targeting the RBD of the S protein of SARS-CoV-2 induces protective immunity

Abstract

The novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19 leading to a pandemic. An effective preventive vaccine against this virus is urgently needed. As the most critical step during infection, SARS-CoV-2 uses its Spike protein receptor-binding domain (S-RBD) to engage with the host cell receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)1,2. Here we showed that a recombinant vaccine comprising residues 319-545 of the S-RBD could induce a potent functional antibody response in the immunized mice, rabbits and non-human primates (Macaca mulatta) as early as 7 or 14 days after a single dose injection. The sera from the immunized animals blocked RBD binding to ACE2 expressed on the cell surface and neutralized the infection by SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus and live SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Importantly, the vaccination also provided protection in non-human primates from SARS-CoV-2 challenge in vivo. The elevated RBD-specific antibodies were also found in the sera from patients with COVID-19. Several immune pathways and CD4 T lymphocytes were implicated in the induction of the vaccine antibody response. Our finding highlights the importance of the RBD domain in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine design and provides the rationale for the development of a protective vaccine through the induction of antibody against the RBD domain.

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Correspondence to Kang Zhang or Guangwen Lu or Xiawei Wei.

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Yang, J., Wang, W., Chen, Z. et al. A vaccine targeting the RBD of the S protein of SARS-CoV-2 induces protective immunity. Nature (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2599-8

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