Ancestral SARS-CoV-2-Driven Antibody Repertoire Diversity in an Unvaccinated Individual Correlates with Expanded Neutralization Breadth

Microbiol Spectr. 2023 Mar 22;11(2):e0433222. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.04332-22. Online ahead of print.


Understanding the quality of immune repertoire triggered during natural infection can provide vital clues that form the basis for development of a humoral immune response in some individuals capable of broadly neutralizing pan-SARS-CoV-2 variants. In the present study, we report variations in neutralization potential against Omicron variants of two novel neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), THSC20.HVTR11 and THSC20.HVTR55, isolated from an unvaccinated convalescent individual that represent distinct B cell lineage origins and epitope specificity compared to five MAbs we previously reported that were isolated from the same individual. In addition, we observed neutralization of Omicron variants by plasma antibodies obtained from this particular individual postvaccination with increased magnitude. Interestingly, this observation was found to be comparable with six additional individuals who initially were also infected with ancestral SARS-CoV-2 and then received vaccines, indicating that hybrid immunity can provide robust humoral immunity likely by antibody affinity maturation. Development of a distinct antigen-specific B cell repertoire capable of producing polyclonal antibodies with distinct affinity and specificities offers the highest probability of protecting against evolving SARS-CoV-2 variants. IMPORTANCE Development of robust neutralizing antibodies in SARS-CoV-2 convalescent individuals is known; however, it varies at the population level. We isolated monoclonal antibodies from an individual infected with ancestral SARS-CoV-2 in early 2020 that not only varied in their B cell lineage origin but also varied in their capability and potency to neutralize all the known variants of concern (VOCs) and currently circulating Omicron variants. This indicated establishment of unique lineages that contributed in forming a B cell repertoire in this particular individual immediately following infection, giving rise to diverse antibody responses that could complement each other in providing a broadly neutralizing polyclonal antibody response. Individuals who were able to produce polyclonal antibody responses with higher magnitude have a higher chance of being protected from evolving SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Keywords: Omicron; SARS-CoV-2; antibody repertoire; breakthrough infection; monoclonal antibodies; neutralizing antibodies.