Characteristics of epitope dominance pattern and cross-variant neutralisation in 16 SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine sera.

Publication date: Sep 04, 2023

SARS-CoV-2 serological studies suggest that individual serum antibody repertoires can affect neutralisation breadth. Herein, we asked whether a BNT162b2 vaccine-induced epitope dominance pattern (i. e., predominant viral structural domain targeted by serum antibodies for virus neutralisation) affects cross-variant neutralisation. When a neutralisation assay against the ancestral strain was carried out using 16 vaccine sera preabsorbed with a recombinant receptor-binding domain (RBD) or an N-terminal domain (NTD) protein, three and 13 sera, respectively, showed lower neutralisation under NTD and RBD protein-preabsorbed conditions than under the other protein-preabsorbed conditions. This suggests that the NTD was responsible for virus neutralisation in three sera, whereas the other 13 sera elicited RBD-dominant neutralisation. The results also suggest the presence of infectivity-enhancing antibodies in four out of the 13 RBD-dominant sera. A neutralisation assay using SARS-CoV-2 variants revealed that NTD-dominant sera showed significantly reduced neutralising activity against the B. 1.617. 2 variant, whereas RBD-dominant sera retained neutralising activity even in the presence of infectivity-enhancing antibodies. Taken together, these results suggest the followings: (i) epitope dominance patterns are divided into at least two types: NTD-dominant and RBD-dominant; (ii) NTD-dominant sera have less potential to neutralise the B. 1.617. 2 variant than RBD-dominant sera; and (iii) infectivity-enhancing antibodies play a limited role in cross-variant neutralisation against the five variants tested.

Concepts Keywords
Bnt162b2 Epitope dominance
Limited N-terminal domain
Mrna Neutralisation breadth
Recombinant Receptor-binding domain
Vaccine SARS-CoV-2


Type Source Name
disease VO vaccine
disease IDO assay
disease IDO infectivity

Original Article

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