Functional mapping of B-cell linear epitopes of SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 convalescent population

Zhigang Yi, Yun Ling, Xiaonan Zhang, Jieliang Chen, Kongying Hu, Yuyan Wang, Wuhui Song, Tianlei Ying, Rong Zhang, HongZhou Lu, Zhenghong Yuan

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ABSTRACT Pandemic SARS-CoV-2 has caused unprecedented mortalities. Vaccine is in urgent need to stop the pandemic. Despite great progresses on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development, the efficacy of the vaccines remains to be determined. Deciphering the interactions of the viral epitopes with the elicited neutralizing antibodies in convalescent population inspires the vaccine development. In this study, we devised a peptide array composed of 20-mer overlapped peptides of spike (S), membrane (M) and envelope (E) proteins, and performed a screening with 120 COVID-19 convalescent sera and 24 non-COVID-19 sera. We identified five SARS-CoV-2-specific dominant epitopes that reacted with above 40% COVID-19 convalescent sera. Of note, two peptides non-specifically interacted with most of the non-COVID-19 sera. Neutralization assay indicated that only five sera completely blocked viral infection at the dilution of 1:200. By using a peptide-compete neutralizing assay, we found that three dominant epitopes partially competed the neutralization activity of several convalescent sera, suggesting antibodies elicited by these epitopes played an important role in neutralizing viral infection. The epitopes we identified in this study may serve as vaccine candidates to elicit neutralizing antibodies in most vaccinated people or specific antigens for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1988-1996
Number of pages9
JournalEmerging Microbes and Infections
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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