The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, has triggered a worldwide health emergency. Here, we show that ferritin-like Dps from hyperthermophilic Sulfolobus islandicus, covalently coupled with SARS-CoV-2 antigens via the SpyCatcher system, forms stable multivalent dodecameric vaccine nanoparticles that remain intact even after lyophilisation. Immunisation experiments in mice demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) coupled to Dps (RBD-S-Dps) elicited a higher antibody titre and an enhanced neutralising antibody response compared to monomeric RBD. A single immunisation with RBD-S-Dps completely protected hACE2-expressing mice from serious illness and led to viral clearance from the lungs upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data highlight that multimerised SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccines are a highly efficacious modality, particularly when combined with an ultra-stable scaffold.
Keywords: COVID-19; Dps; RBD; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; subunit vaccine.
© 2021 MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. FEBS Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Federation of European Biochemical Societies.