SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody structures inform therapeutic strategies
Christopher O. Barnes, Claudia A. Jette, Morgan E. Abernathy, Kim-Marie A. Dam, Shannon R. Esswein, Harry B. Gristick, Andrey G. Malyutin, Naima G. Sharaf, Kathryn E. Huey-Tubman, Yu E. Lee, Davide F. Robbiani, Michel C. Nussenzweig, Anthony P. West Jr & Pamela J. Bjorkman
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents an urgent health crisis. Human neutralizing antibodies that target the host ACE2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein1,2,3,4,5 show promise therapeutically and are being evaluated clinically6,7,8. To identify the structural correlates of SARS-CoV-2 neutralization, we solved eight new structures of distinct COVID-19 human neutralizing antibodies5 in complex with the SARS-CoV-2 spike trimer or RBD. Structural comparisons allowed us to classify the antibodies into categories: (1) Neutralizing antibodies encoded by the VH3-53 gene segment with short CDRH3 loops that block ACE2 and bind only to ‘up’ RBDs; (2) ACE2-blocking neutralizing antibodies that bind both up and ‘down’ RBDs and can contact adjacent RBDs; (3) neutralizing antibodies that bind outside the ACE2 site and recognize both up and down RBDs; and (4) previously described antibodies that do not block ACE2 and bind only up RBDs9. Class 2 contained four neutralizing antibodies with epitopes that bridged RBDs, including a VH3-53 antibody that used a long CDRH3 with a hydrophobic tip to bridge between adjacent down RBDs, thereby locking the spike into a closed conformation. Epitope and paratope mapping revealed few interactions with host-derived N-glycans and minor contributions of antibody somatic hypermutations to epitope contacts.