Cross-Neutralization of Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern by Antibodies Targeting Distinct Epitopes on Spike.mBio. 2021 12 21; 12(6):e0297521.MBIO
Several severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants have arisen that exhibit increased viral transmissibility and partial evasion of immunity induced by natural infection and vaccination. To address the specific antibody targets that were affected by recent viral variants, we generated 43 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from 10 convalescent donors that bound three distinct domains of the SARS-CoV-2 spike. Viral variants harboring mutations at K417, E484, and N501 could escape most of the highly potent antibodies against the receptor binding domain (RBD). Despite this, we identified 12 neutralizing mAbs against three distinct regions of the spike protein that neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and variants of concern (VOCs), including B.1.1.7 (alpha), P.1 (gamma), and B.1.617.2 (delta). Notably, antibodies targeting distinct epitopes could neutralize discrete variants, suggesting that different variants may have evolved to disrupt the binding of particular neutralizing antibody classes. These results underscore that humans exposed to the first pandemic wave of prototype SARS-CoV-2 possess neutralizing antibodies against current variants and that it is critical to induce antibodies targeting multiple distinct epitopes of the spike that can neutralize emerging variants of concern. IMPORTANCE We describe the binding and neutralization properties of a new set of human monoclonal antibodies derived from memory B cells of 10 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) convalescent donors in the first pandemic wave of prototype SARS-CoV-2. There were 12 antibodies targeting distinct epitopes on spike, including two sites on the RBD and one on the N-terminal domain (NTD), that displayed cross-neutralization of VOCs, for which distinct antibody targets could neutralize discrete variants. This work underlines that natural infection by SARS-CoV-2 induces effective cross-neutralization against only some VOCs and supports the need for COVID-19 vaccination for robust induction of neutralizing antibodies targeting multiple epitopes of the spike protein to combat the current SARS-CoV-2 VOCs and any others that might emerge in the future.