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A monoclonal antibody against staphylococcal enterotoxin B superantigen inhibits SARS-CoV-2 entry in vitro.

  • Author(s): Cheng, Mary Hongying
  • Porritt, Rebecca A
  • Rivas, Magali Noval
  • Krieger, James M
  • Ozdemir, Asli Beyza
  • Garcia, Gustavo
  • Arumugaswami, Vaithilingaraja
  • Fries, Bettina C
  • Arditi, Moshe
  • Bahar, Ivet
  • et al.

We recently discovered a superantigen-like motif sequentially and structurally similar to a staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) segment, near the S1/S2 cleavage site of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which might explain the multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) observed in children and the cytokine storm in severe COVID-19 patients. We show here that an anti-SEB monoclonal antibody (mAb), 6D3, can bind this viral motif at its polybasic (PRRA) insert to inhibit infection in live virus assays. The overlap between the superantigenic site of the spike and its proteolytic cleavage site suggests that the mAb prevents viral entry by interfering with the proteolytic activity of cell proteases (furin and TMPRSS2). The high affinity of 6D3 for this site originates from a polyacidic segment at its heavy chain CDR2. The study points to the potential utility of 6D3 for possibly treating COVID-19, MIS-C, or common colds caused by human coronaviruses that also possess a furin-like cleavage site.

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