An alternative binding mode of IGHV3-53 antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain

bioRxiv. 2020 Jul 27;2020.07.26.222232. doi: 10.1101/2020.07.26.222232. Preprint


IGHV3-53-encoded neutralizing antibodies are commonly elicited during SARS-CoV-2 infection and target the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike (S) protein. Such IGHV3-53 antibodies generally have a short CDR H3 due to structural constraints in binding the RBD (mode A). However, a small subset of IGHV3-53 antibodies to the RBD contain a longer CDR H3. Crystal structures of two IGHV3-53 neutralizing antibodies here demonstrate that a longer CDR H3 can be accommodated in a different binding mode (mode B). These two classes of IGHV3-53 antibodies both target the ACE2 receptor binding site, but with very different angles of approach and molecular interactions. Overall, these findings emphasize the versatility of IGHV3-53 in this common antibody response to SARS-CoV-2, where conserved IGHV3-53 germline-encoded features can be combined with very different CDR H3 lengths and light chains for SARS-CoV-2 RBD recognition and virus neutralization.

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  • Preprint