A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 lineage (first found in South Africa) has been raising global concern due to its harboring of multiple mutations in the spike that potentially increase transmissibility and yield resistance to neutralizing antibodies. We here tested infectivity and neutralization efficiency of SARS-CoV-2 spike pseudoviruses bearing particular mutations of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) derived either from the Wuhan strains (referred to as D614G or with other sites) or the B.1.351 lineage (referred to as N501Y, K417N, and E484K). The three different pseudoviruses B.1.351 lineage related significantly increased infectivity compared with other mutants that indicated Wuhan strains. Interestingly, K417N and E484K mutations dramatically enhanced cell-cell fusion than N501Y even though their infectivity were similar, suggesting that K417N and E484K mutations harboring SARS-CoV-2 variant might be more transmissible than N501Y mutation containing SARS-CoV-2 variant. We also investigated the efficacy of two different monoclonal antibodies, Casirivimab and Imdevimab that neutralized SARS-CoV-2, against several kinds of pseudoviruses which indicated Wuhan or B.1.351 lineage. Remarkably, Imdevimab effectively neutralized B.1.351 lineage pseudoviruses containing N501Y, K417N, and E484K mutations, while Casirivimab partially affected them. Overall, our results underscore the importance of B.1.351 lineage SARS-CoV-2 in the viral spread and its implication for antibody efficacy.
Keywords: B.1.351; Casirivimab; Imdevimab; K417N and E484K mutation of spike; SARS-CoV-2; neutralization; viral infectivity.