Neutralizing antibody and soluble ACE2 inhibition of a replication-competent VSV-SARS-CoV-2 and a clinical isolate of SARS-CoV-2

James Brett Case, Paul W Rothlauf, Rita E Chen, Zhuoming Liu, Haiyan Zhao, Arthur S Kim, Louis-Marie Bloyet, Qiru Zeng, Stephen Tahan, Lindsay Droit, Ma. Xenia G. Ilagan, Michael A Tartell, Gaya K Amarasinghe, Jeffrey P Henderson, Shane Miersch, Mart Ustav, Sachdev Sidhu, Herbert W Virgin, David Wang, Siyuan Ding, Davide Corti, Elitza S Theel, Daved H Fremont, Michael S Diamond, Sean P. J. Whelan

Antibody-based interventions against SARS-CoV-2 could limit morbidity, mortality, and possibly disrupt epidemic transmission. An anticipated correlate of such countermeasures is the level of neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, yet there is no consensus as to which assay should be used for such measurements. Using an infectious molecular clone of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) that expresses eGFP as a marker of infection, we replaced the glycoprotein gene (G) with the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (VSV-eGFP-SARS-CoV-2) and developed a high-throughput imaging-based neutralization assay at biosafety level 2. We also developed a focus reduction neutralization test with a clinical isolate of SARS-CoV-2 at biosafety level 3. We compared the neutralizing activities of monoclonal and polyclonal antibody preparations, as well as ACE2-Fc soluble decoy protein in both assays and find an exceptionally high degree of concordance. The two assays will help define correlates of protection for antibody-based countermeasures including therapeutic antibodies, immune γ-globulin or plasma preparations, and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Replication-competent VSV-eGFP-SARS-CoV-2 provides a rapid assay for testing inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 mediated entry that can be performed in 7.5 hours under reduced biosafety containment.


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