Elicitation of broadly protective sarbecovirus immunity by receptor-binding domain nanoparticle vaccines

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2021 Mar 16:2021.03.15.435528. doi: 10.1101/2021.03.15.435528.


Understanding the ability of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-elicited antibodies to neutralize and protect against emerging variants of concern and other sarbecoviruses is key for guiding vaccine development decisions and public health policies. We show that a clinical stage multivalent SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain nanoparticle vaccine (SARS-CoV-2 RBD-NP) protects mice from SARS-CoV-2-induced disease after a single shot, indicating that the vaccine could allow dose-sparing. SARS-CoV-2 RBD-NP elicits high antibody titers in two non-human primate (NHP) models against multiple distinct RBD antigenic sites known to be recognized by neutralizing antibodies. We benchmarked NHP serum neutralizing activity elicited by RBD-NP against a lead prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike immunogen using a panel of single-residue spike mutants detected in clinical isolates as well as the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants of concern. Polyclonal antibodies elicited by both vaccines are resilient to most RBD mutations tested, but the E484K substitution has similar negative consequences for neutralization, and exhibit modest but comparable neutralization breadth against distantly related sarbecoviruses. We demonstrate that mosaic and cocktail sarbecovirus RBD-NPs elicit broad sarbecovirus neutralizing activity, including against the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 variant, and protect mice against severe SARS-CoV challenge even in the absence of the SARS-CoV RBD in the vaccine. This study provides proof of principle that sarbecovirus RBD-NPs induce heterotypic protection and enables advancement of broadly protective sarbecovirus vaccines to the clinic.

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  • Preprint