SARS-CoV-2 reactive and neutralizing antibodies discovered by single-cell sequencing of plasma cells and mammalian display

Cell Rep. 2022 Jan 18;38(3):110242. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110242. Epub 2021 Dec 22.


Characterization of COVID-19 antibodies has largely focused on memory B cells; however, it is the antibody-secreting plasma cells that are directly responsible for the production of serum antibodies, which play a critical role in resolving SARS-CoV-2 infection. Little is known about the specificity of plasma cells, largely because plasma cells lack surface antibody expression, thereby complicating their screening. Here, we describe a technology pipeline that integrates single-cell antibody repertoire sequencing and mammalian display to interrogate the specificity of plasma cells from 16 convalescent patients. Single-cell sequencing allows us to profile antibody repertoire features and identify expanded clonal lineages. Mammalian display screening is used to reveal that 43 antibodies (of 132 candidates) derived from expanded plasma cell lineages are specific to SARS-CoV-2 antigens, including antibodies with high affinity to the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) that exhibit potent neutralization and broad binding to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 variants (of concern/interest).

Keywords: B cell; COVID-19; CRISPR; SARS-CoV-2; VoC; antibody; antibody repertoire; mammalian display; plasma cell; single-cell sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / isolation & purification*
  • Antibodies, Viral / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19 / immunology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cohort Studies
  • Gene Library
  • HEK293 Cells
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Peptide Library
  • Plasma Cells / chemistry
  • Plasma Cells / metabolism*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Peptide Library