The Francis Crick Institute
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Determinants of Spike infectivity, processing, and neutralization in SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants BA.1 and BA.2.

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-09-15, 10:56 authored by Chiara Pastorio, Fabian Zech, Sabrina Noettger, Christoph Jung, Timo Jacob, Theo Sanderson, Konstantin MJ Sparrer, Frank Kirchhoff
SARS-CoV-2 Omicron rapidly outcompeted other variants and currently dominates the COVID-19 pandemic. Its enhanced transmission and immune evasion are thought to be driven by numerous mutations in the Omicron Spike protein. Here, we systematically introduced BA.1 and/or BA.2 Omicron Spike mutations into the ancestral Spike protein and examined the impacts on Spike function, processing, and susceptibility to neutralization. Individual mutations of S371F/L, S375F, and T376A in the ACE2-receptor-binding domain as well as Q954H and N969K in the hinge region 1 impaired infectivity, while changes to G339D, D614G, N764K, and L981F moderately enhanced it. Most mutations in the N-terminal region and receptor-binding domain reduced the sensitivity of the Spike protein to neutralization by sera from individuals vaccinated with the BNT162b2 vaccine and by therapeutic antibodies. Our results represent a systematic functional analysis of Omicron Spike adaptations that have allowed this SARS-CoV-2 variant to dominate the current pandemic.


Wellcome Trust (Grant ID: 210918/Z/18/Z, Grant title: WT 210918/Z/18/Z)