Two-Component Nanoparticle Vaccine Displaying Glycosylated Spike S1 Domain Induces Neutralizing Antibody Response against SARS-CoV-2 Variants

L. van Oosten, J.J. Altenburg, Cyrielle Fougeroux, C. Geertsema, E.J. van den End, W.A.C. Evers, A.H. Westphal, S. Lindhoud, W.A.M. van den Berg, D.C. Swarts, L. Deurhof, Andreas Suhrbier, Thuy T. Le, S. Torres Morales, S.K. Myeni, Marjolein Kikkert, Adam F. Sander, Willem Adriaan de Jongh, Robert Dagil, Morten A. NielsenAli Salanti, Max Søgaard, T.M.P. Keijzer, D. Weijers, M.H.M. Eppink, R.H. Wijffels, M.M. van Oers, D.E. Martens, G.P. Pijlman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Vaccines pave the way out of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Besides mRNA and adenoviral vector vaccines, effective protein-based vaccines are needed for immunization against current and emerging variants. We have developed a virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccine using the baculovirus-insect cell expression system, a robust production platform known for its scalability, low cost, and safety. Baculoviruses were constructed encoding SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins: full-length S, stabilized secreted S, or the S1 domain. Since subunit S only partially protected mice from SARS-CoV-2 challenge, we produced S1 for conjugation to bacteriophage AP205 VLP nanoparticles using tag/catcher technology. The S1 yield in an insect-cell bioreactor was ∼11 mg/liter, and authentic protein folding, efficient glycosylation, partial trimerization, and ACE2 receptor binding was confirmed. Prime-boost immunization of mice with 0.5 μg S1-VLPs showed potent neutralizing antibody responses against Wuhan and UK/B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variants. This two-component nanoparticle vaccine can now be further developed to help alleviate the burden of COVID-19. IMPORTANCE Vaccination is essential to reduce disease severity and limit the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Protein-based vaccines are useful to vaccinate the world population and to boost immunity against emerging variants. Their safety profiles, production costs, and vaccine storage temperatures are advantageous compared to mRNA and adenovirus vector vaccines. Here, we use the versatile and scalable baculovirus expression vector system to generate a two-component nanoparticle vaccine to induce potent neutralizing antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants. These nanoparticle vaccines can be quickly adapted as boosters by simply updating the antigen component.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01813-21
JournalmBio
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Insect cells
  • Nanoparticle
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccines

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