COVID-19 Serum Drives Spike-Mediated SARS-CoV-2 Variation

Viruses. 2024 May 11;16(5):763. doi: 10.3390/v16050763.


Neutralizing antibodies targeting the spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2, elicited either by natural infection or vaccination, are crucial for protection against the virus. Nonetheless, the emergence of viral escape mutants presents ongoing challenges by contributing to breakthrough infections. To define the evolution trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 within the immune population, we co-incubated replication-competent rVSV/SARS-CoV-2/GFP chimeric viruses with sera from COVID-19 convalescents. Our findings revealed that the E484D mutation contributes to increased viral resistant against both convalescent and vaccinated sera, while the L1265R/H1271Y double mutation enhanced viral infectivity in 293T-hACE2 and Vero cells. These findings suggest that under the selective pressure of polyclonal antibodies, SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to accumulate mutations that facilitate either immune evasion or greater infectivity, facilitating its adaption to neutralizing antibody responses. Although the mutations identified in this study currently exhibit low prevalence in the circulating SARS-CoV-2 populations, the continuous and meticulous surveillance of viral mutations remains crucial. Moreover, there is an urgent necessity to develop next-generation antibody therapeutics and vaccines that target diverse, less mutation-prone antigenic sites to ensure more comprehensive and durable immune protection against SARS-CoV-2.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; immune evasion; infectivity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing* / blood
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing* / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral* / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral* / immunology
  • COVID-19* / immunology
  • COVID-19* / virology
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Mutation*
  • SARS-CoV-2* / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2* / immunology
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus* / genetics
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus* / immunology
  • Vero Cells


  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants