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Browsing by Subject "Structural biology"

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  • Jayachandran, Rupesh Balaji (2022)
    COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has thus far claimed over six million lives. Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have successfully mitigated severe disease and eased the burden on healthcare systems. Neutralizing antibodies play crucial roles both in vaccine derived immunity, and as drugs widely utilized in monoclonal antibody therapy. Neutralizing antibodies primarily target the spike protein, where most of the neutralizing epitopes are located in the receptor binding domain (RBD). Elucidating the sites of vulnerability to neutralization on SARS-CoV-2 can facilitate the development of therapeutics. 7A12 is a newly-discovered IgG antigen-binding fragment (Fab) isolated from a COVID-19 patient in Finland that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 by targeting the spike protein. In this thesis, a complex of the Fab 7A12 with SARS-CoV-2 spike ectodomain trimer was studied using cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) single-particle analysis to elucidate the epitope of 7A12 and to gain insight into the neutralization mechanism of 7A12. Cryo-EM data of the complex revealed that Fab 7A12 can bind to both “open” and “closed” conformations of RBD. Rigid-body fitting of the spike trimer and Fab 7A12 models into the cryo-EM density indicates that 7A12 recognizes an epitope in the RBD which is mainly located outside the ACE2 binding site. Together, these results suggest that the 7A12 epitope belongs to class III of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing epitopes located in the RBD, indicating that 7A12 could neutralize by sterically hindering ACE2 and by preventing the adjacent RBD from changing to ”up” conformation. Furthermore, our results revealed an overlap of 7A12 epitope with the putative binding site of heparan sulfate, a host factor of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which might contribute to neutralization. 7A12-RBD interface mapping delineated the residues comprising the epitope, which do not include mutants found in Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants, while four mutants were found in Omicron within the epitope indicating that 7A12 is likely to neutralize Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants of concern.