Elicitation of Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies against B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and B.1.617.1 SARS-CoV-2 Variants by Three Prototype Strain-Derived Recombinant Protein Vaccines.Viruses. 2021 07 22; 13(8)V
The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Most of the currently approved SARS-CoV-2 vaccines use the prototype strain-derived spike (S) protein or its receptor-binding domain (RBD) as the vaccine antigen. The emergence of several novel SARS-CoV-2 variants has raised concerns about potential immune escape. In this study, we performed an immunogenicity comparison of prototype strain-derived RBD, S1, and S ectodomain trimer (S-trimer) antigens and evaluated their induction of neutralizing antibodies against three circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, including B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and B.1.617.1. We found that, at the same antigen dose, the RBD and S-trimer vaccines were more potent than the S1 vaccine in eliciting long-lasting, high-titer broadly neutralizing antibodies in mice. The RBD immune sera remained highly effective against the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and B.1.617.1 variants despite the corresponding neutralizing titers decreasing by 1.2-, 2.8-, and 3.5-fold relative to that against the wild-type strain. Significantly, the S-trimer immune sera exhibited comparable neutralization potency (less than twofold variation in neutralizing GMTs) towards the prototype strain and all three variants tested. These findings provide valuable information for further development of recombinant protein-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and support the continued use of currently approved SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in the regions/countries where variant viruses circulate.