Immunogenic fusion proteins induce neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the serum and milk of sheep.
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15622
Antigen-specific polyclonal immunoglobulins derived from the serum, colostrum, or milk of immunized ruminant animals have potential as scalable therapeutics for the control of viral diseases including COVID-19. Here we show that the immunization of sheep with fusions of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) to ovine IgG2a Fc domains promotes significantly higher levels of antigen-specific antibodies compared to native RBD or full-length spike antigens. This antibody population contained elevated levels of neutralizing antibodies that suppressed binding between the RBD and hACE2 receptors in vitro. A second immune-stimulating fusion candidate, Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), induced high neutralizing responses in select animals but narrowly missed achieving significance. We further demonstrated that the antibodies induced by these fusion antigens were transferred into colostrum/milk and possessed cross-neutralizing activity against diverse SARS-CoV-2 variants. Our findings highlight a new pathway for recombinant antigen design in ruminant animals with applications in immune milk production and animal health.
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B. V. This is an open-access article under the CC BY-NC-NDlicense.