An antibody targeting the N-terminal domain of SARS-CoV-2 disrupts the spike trimer.


The protective human antibody response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) focuses on the spike (S) protein, which decorates the virion surface and mediates cell binding and entry. Most SARS-CoV-2 protective antibodies target the receptor-binding domain or a single dominant epitope ("supersite") on the N-terminal domain (NTD). Using the single B cell technology called linking B cell receptor to antigen specificity through sequencing (LIBRA-Seq), we isolated a large panel of NTD-reactive and SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies from an individual who had recovered from COVID-19. We found that neutralizing antibodies against the NTD supersite were commonly encoded by the IGHV1-24 gene, forming a genetic cluster representing a public B cell clonotype. However, we also discovered a rare human antibody, COV2-3434, that recognizes a site of vulnerability on the SARS-CoV-2 S protein in the trimer interface (TI) and possesses a distinct class of functional activity. COV2-3434 disrupted the integrity of S protein trimers, inhibited the cell-to-cell spread of the virus in culture, and conferred protection in human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2-transgenic (ACE2-transgenic) mice against the SARS-CoV-2 challenge. This study provides insight into antibody targeting of the S protein TI region, suggesting this region may be a site of virus vulnerability.