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posted on 22.04.2021, 05:29 by Timothy P. Riley, Hui-Ting Chou, Ruozhen Hu, Krzysztof P. Bzymek, Ana R. Correia, Alexander C. Partin, Danqing Li, Danyang Gong, Zhulun Wang, Xinchao Yu, Paolo Manzanillo, Fernando Garces

The worldwide pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is unprecedented and the impact on public health and the global economy continues to be devastating. Although early therapies such as prophylactic antibodies and vaccines show great promise, there are concerns about the long-term efficacy and universal applicability of these therapies as the virus continues to mutate. Thus, protein-based immunogens that can quickly respond to viral changes remain of continued interest. The Spike protein, the main immunogen of this virus, displays a highly dynamic trimeric structure that presents a challenge for therapeutic development. Here, guided by the structure of the Spike trimer, we rationally design new Spike constructs that show a uniquely high stability profile while simultaneously remaining locked into the immunogen-desirable prefusion state. Furthermore, our approach emphasizes the relationship between the highly conserved S2 region and structurally dynamic Receptor Binding Domains (RBD) to enable vaccine development as well as the generation of antibodies able to resist viral mutation.

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