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Mosaic RBD Nanoparticle Immune Response

In a recent article published in Cell Reports, researchers from China investigated the immunodominant antibody responses induced by mosaic Receptor-binding domain (RBD) nanoparticles derived from various sarbecoviruses. The research aims to understand the cross-reactivity of antibodies to RBDs across different sarbecoviruses, focusing on the potential of pan-sarbecovirus mosaic nanoparticle vaccines.

Mosaic RBD Nanoparticle Immune Response

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The emergence of novel coronaviruses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), underscores the ongoing threat of zoonotic viruses to global public health. The rapid evolution and transmission of coronaviruses and their ability to cause severe respiratory illnesses highlight the urgent need for effective strategies to combat these pathogens.

Traditional vaccine approaches targeting specific viral strains may be limited in providing broad protection against diverse sarbecovirus lineages. As evidenced by the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants with immune escape mutations, there is a critical need for vaccines that can elicit cross-reactive immune responses against conserved epitopes shared by different sarbecoviruses.

Pan-sarbecovirus vaccines could offer a comprehensive and sustainable solution to combatting current and future outbreaks. The development of mosaic RBD nanoparticles as a vaccine platform represents a novel strategy to induce cross-reactive antibody responses across sarbecovirus lineages.

The Current Study

The gene sequences encoding spy tag 003-RBD and spy catcher 003-LuS nanoparticles were synthesized using standard molecular biology techniques. The synthetic genes were then cloned into appropriate expression vectors for subsequent protein production.

The plasmid containing the spy tag 003-RBD gene construct was transfected into mammalian cell lines, such as Expi293F cells, for protein expression. The expressed protein was purified using affinity chromatography or other suitable purification methods to obtain a highly pure spy tag 003-RBD protein.

The plasmid carrying the spy catcher 003-LuS gene construct was transformed into Escherichia coli strains, such as BL21 (DE3), for protein expression. The recombinant protein was then purified using affinity chromatography, size exclusion chromatography, or other purification methods to isolate the spy catcher 003-LuS nanoparticles.

The purified spy tag 003-RBD protein and spy catcher 003-LuS nanoparticles were conjugated using the spy tag-spy catcher interaction. The conjugation process involved incubating the two components under specific conditions to facilitate the formation of stable RBD-conjugated nanoparticles.

The morphology and structure of the RBD-conjugated nanoparticles were characterized using negative staining electron microscopy. A sample of the nanoparticles was adsorbed onto a carbon-coated grid, stained with a heavy metal stain, and imaged using an electron microscope to visualize their size, shape, and uniformity.

For the immunization studies, mice were injected with the RBD-conjugated nanoparticles to evaluate the immune response. The immunization protocol, including dosages, injection routes, and schedules, was optimized based on previous studies and experimental requirements to elicit robust antibody responses in the mice.

Results and Discussion

The study revealed a striking pattern of immunodominant antibody responses elicited by mosaic RBD nanoparticles across different sarbecoviruses. The predominant usage of the IGHV14-3:IGKV14-111 germline pair in the antibody repertoire highlights a conserved mechanism of immune recognition against diverse RBD variants. This finding suggests a potential convergent evolution of antibody responses towards a common epitope shared among sarbecoviruses.

The antibodies generated in response to mosaic RBD nanoparticles demonstrated a remarkable ability to target a conserved RBD-8 site present in clade 1a, 1b, and 3 sarbecoviruses. This broad cross-reactivity indicates the potential of mosaic nanoparticle vaccines to induce antibodies capable of recognizing key epitopes shared by multiple sarbecovirus strains. Such cross-reactive antibodies may confer a level of protection against a wide range of sarbecovirus variants, including emerging strains.

The observed immunodominant antibody responses and broad cross-reactivity to conserved RBD sites have significant implications for the development of pan-sarbecovirus vaccines. Mosaic RBD nanoparticles, by eliciting antibodies with cross-neutralizing potential against diverse sarbecoviruses, offer a promising strategy for achieving broad protection against current and future threats posed by these viruses. The immune system's ability to recognize and target conserved epitopes across sarbecovirus lineages underscores the importance of a pan-sarbecovirus vaccine approach.


The study underscores the importance of mosaic RBD nanoparticles in generating cross-reactive antibody responses against a range of sarbecoviruses. It provides valuable insights into the design of pan-sarbecovirus vaccines that can offer broad protection against emerging and existing sarbecovirus variants.

Future studies should focus on evaluating the protective efficacy of these vaccines against sarbecovirus challenges in animal models and potentially in human trials. Understanding the long-term durability and breadth of protection conferred by mosaic nanoparticle vaccines will be crucial for their translation into effective tools for combating sarbecovirus infections on a global scale.

Journal Reference

Liu, C., et al. (2024). Mosaic RBD nanoparticle elicits immunodominant antibody responses across sarbecoviruses. Cell Reports.

Dr. Noopur Jain

Written by

Dr. Noopur Jain

Dr. Noopur Jain is an accomplished Scientific Writer based in the city of New Delhi, India. With a Ph.D. in Materials Science, she brings a depth of knowledge and experience in electron microscopy, catalysis, and soft materials. Her scientific publishing record is a testament to her dedication and expertise in the field. Additionally, she has hands-on experience in the field of chemical formulations, microscopy technique development and statistical analysis.    


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