Cross-reactive epitopes ( CREs HGNC
) are similar epitopes on viruses that are recognized or neutralized by same antibodies. The S protein PROTEIN
of SARS-CoV-2, similar to type I fusion proteins of viruses such as HIV-1 envelope (Env) and influenza hemagglutinin, is heavily glycosylated. Viral Env glycans, though host derived, are distinctly processed and thereby recognized or accommodated during antibody responses. In recent years, highly potent and/or broadly neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies (bnAbs) that are generated in chronic HIV-1 infections MESHD
have been defined. These bnAbs exhibit atypical features such as extensive somatic hypermutations, long complementary determining region (CDR) lengths, tyrosine sulfation and presence of insertions/deletions, enabling them to effectively neutralize diverse HIV-1 viruses despite extensive variations within the core epitopes they recognize. As some of the HIV-1 bnAbs have evolved to recognize the dense viral glycans and cross-reactive epitopes ( CREs HGNC
), we assessed if these bnAbs cross-react with SARS-CoV-2. Several HIV-1 bnAbs showed cross-reactivity with SARS-CoV-2 while one HIV-1 CD4 binding site bnAb, N6, neutralized SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, neutralizing plasma antibodies of chronically HIV-1 infected MESHD
children showed cross neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, our observations suggest that human monoclonal antibodies tolerating extensive epitope variability can be leveraged to neutralize pathogens with related antigenic profile.
ImportanceIn the current ongoing COVID-19 pandemic MESHD
, neutralizing antibodies have been shown to be a critical feature of recovered patients. HIV-1 bnAbs recognize extensively diverse cross-reactive epitopes and tolerate diversity within their core epitope. Given the unique nature of HIV-1 bnAbs and their ability to recognize and/or accommodate viral glycans, we reasoned that the glycan shield of SARS-CoV-2 spike PROTEIN SARS-CoV-2 spike MESHD
protein can be targeted by HIV-1 specific bnAbs. Herein, we showed that HIV-1 specific antibodies cross-react and neutralize SARS-CoV-2. Understanding cross-reactive neutralization epitopes of antibodies generated in divergent viral infections will provide key evidence for engineering so called super-antibodies (antibodies that can potently neutralize diverse pathogens with similar antigenic features). Such cross-reactive antibodies can provide a blueprint upon which synthetic variants can be generated in the face of future pandemics.