Evolution of Early SARS-CoV-2 and Cross-Coronavirus Immunity

Carolin Loos, Caroline Atyeo, Stephanie Fischinger, John Burke, Matthew D Slein, Hendrik Streeck, Douglas Lauffenburger, Edward T Ryan, Richelle C Charles, Galit Alter
MSphere 2020 September 2, 5 (5)
The novel coronavirus, SARS-coronavirus (CoV)-2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused over 17 million infections in just a few months, with disease manifestations ranging from largely asymptomatic infection to critically severe disease. The remarkable spread and unpredictable disease outcomes continue to challenge management of this infection. Among the hypotheses to explain the heterogeneity of symptoms is the possibility that exposure to other coronaviruses (CoVs), or overall higher capability to develop immunity against respiratory pathogens, may influence the evolution of immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Thus, we profiled the immune response across multiple coronavirus receptor binding domains (RBDs), respiratory viruses, and SARS-CoV-2, to determine whether heterologous immunity to other CoV-RBDs or other infections influenced the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 humoral immune response. Overall changes in subclass, isotype, and Fc-receptor binding were profiled broadly across a cohort of 43 individuals against different coronaviruses-RBDs of SARS-CoV-2 and the more common HKU1 and NL63 viruses. We found rapid functional evolution of responses to SARS-CoV-2 over time, along with broad but relatively more time-invariant responses to the more common CoVs. Moreover, there was little evidence of correlation between SARS-CoV-2 responses and HKU1, NL63, and respiratory infection (influenza and respiratory syncytial virus) responses. These findings suggest that common viral infections including common CoV immunity, targeting the receptor binding domain involved in viral infection, do not appear to influence the rapid functional evolution of SARS-CoV-2 immunity, and thus should not impact diagnostics or shape vaccine-induced immunity. IMPORTANCE A critical step to ending the spread of the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the ability to detect, diagnose, and understand why some individuals develop mild and others develop severe disease. For example, defining the early evolutionary patterns of humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2, and whether prevalent coronaviruses or other common infections influence the evolution of immunity, remains poorly understood but could inform diagnostic and vaccine development. Here, we deeply profiled the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 immunity, and how it is influenced by other coinfections. Our data suggest an early and rapid rise in functional humoral immunity in the first 2 weeks of infection across antigen-specific targets, which is negligibly influenced by cross-reactivity to additional common coronaviruses or common respiratory infections. These data suggest that preexisting receptor binding domain-specific immunity does not influence or bias the evolution of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and should have negligible influence on shaping diagnostic or vaccine-induced immunity.

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