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

Cell. 2021 Oct 14;184(21):5432-5447.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.09.015. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


Understanding vaccine-elicited protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants and other sarbecoviruses is key for guiding public health policies. We show that a clinical stage multivalent SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain nanoparticle (RBD-NP) vaccine protects mice from SARS-CoV-2 challenge after a single immunization, indicating a potential dose-sparing strategy. We benchmarked serum neutralizing activity elicited by RBD-NPs in non-human primates against a lead prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike (HexaPro) using a panel of circulating mutants. Polyclonal antibodies elicited by both vaccines are similarly resilient to many RBD residue substitutions tested, although mutations at and surrounding position 484 have negative consequences for neutralization. Mosaic and cocktail nanoparticle immunogens displaying multiple sarbecovirus RBDs elicit broad neutralizing activity in mice and protect mice against SARS-CoV challenge even in the absence of SARS-CoV RBD in the vaccine. This study provides proof of principle that multivalent sarbecovirus RBD-NPs induce heterotypic protection and motivates advancing such broadly protective sarbecovirus vaccines to the clinic.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; mosaic nanoparticle; receptor-binding domain; sarbecovirus; self-assembling nanoparticle; spike glycoprotein; vaccine design.