Synthetic virions reveal fatty acid-coupled adaptive immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein


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SARS-CoV-2 infection is a major global public health concern with incompletely understood pathogenesis. The SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein comprises a highly conserved free fatty acid binding pocket (FABP) with unknown function and evolutionary selection advantage 1 , 2 . Deciphering FABP impact on COVID-19 progression is challenged by the heterogenous nature and large molecular variability of live virus. Here we create synthetic minimal virions (MiniVs) of wild-type and mutant SARS-CoV-2 with precise molecular composition and programmable complexity by bottom-up assembly. MiniV-based systematic assessment of S free fatty acid (FFA) binding reveals that FABP functions as an allosteric regulatory site enabling adaptation of SARS-CoV-2 immunogenicity to inflammation states via binding of pro-inflammatory FFAs. This is achieved by regulation of the S open-to-close equilibrium and the exposure of both, the receptor binding domain (RBD) and the SARS-CoV-2 RGD motif that is responsible for integrin co-receptor engagement. We find that the FDA-approved drugs vitamin K and dexamethasone modulate S-based cell binding in an FABP-like manner. In inflammatory FFA environments, neutralizing immunoglobulins from human convalescent COVID-19 donors lose neutralization activity. Empowered by our MiniV technology, we suggest a conserved mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 dynamically couples its immunogenicity to the host immune response.
Bioinspired materials,SARS-CoV-2,Science,Humanities and Social Sciences,multidisciplinary
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