Identification of an antigenic determinant on the S2 domain of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike glycoprotein capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies

Hong Zhang, Guangwen Wang, Jian Li, Yuchun Nie, Xuanling Shi, Gewei Lian, Wei Wang, Xiaolei Yin, Yang Zhao, Xiuxia Qu, Mingxiao Ding, Hongkui Deng
Journal of Virology 2004, 78 (13): 6938-45
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a life-threatening disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus (CoV), SARS-CoV. The spike (S) glycoprotein of CoV is the major structural protein responsible for induction of host immune response and virus neutralization by antibodies. Hence, knowledge of neutralization determinants on the S protein is helpful for designing protective vaccines. To analyze the antigenic structure of the SARS-CoV S2 domain, the carboxyl-terminal half of the S protein, we first used sera from convalescent SARS patients to test the antigenicity of 12 overlapping fragments spanning the entire S2 and identified two antigenic determinants (Leu 803 to Ala 828 and Pro 1061 to Ser 1093). To determine whether neutralizing antibodies can be elicited by these two determinants, we immunized animals and found that both of them could induce the S2-specific antisera. In some animals, however, only one determinant (Leu 803 to Ala 828) was able to induce the antisera with the binding ability to the native S protein and the neutralizing activity to the SARS-CoV pseudovirus. This determinant is highly conserved across different SARS-CoV isolates. Identification of a conserved antigenic determinant on the S2 domain of the SARS-CoV S protein, which has the potential for inducing neutralizing antibodies, has implications in the development of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV.

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