Research ArticleCORONAVIRUS

The receptor-binding domain of the viral spike protein is an immunodominant and highly specific target of antibodies in SARS-CoV-2 patients

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Science Immunology  11 Jun 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 48, eabc8413
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abc8413

Spike antibody specificity

Serology testing that accurately detects antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is a foundational tool needed to select appropriate measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic and assess the performance of candidate human vaccines. Premkumar et al. used the receptor-binding domain (RBD) portion of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to develop an immunoassay that detects RBD-binding antibodies in serum with high sensitivity and specificity by 9 days after onset of patient symptoms. They found that the presence of RBD-binding antibodies correlated strongly with the emergence of neutralizing antibodies. Antibodies to the RBDs of human common cold coronaviruses were present in most adults but did not cross-react with the SARS-CoV-2 RBD. These findings pave the way for expanded use of RBD-based serology tests to broadly assess humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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