Prophylactic and therapeutic strategies are urgently needed to combat infections caused by the newly emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Here, we have developed a neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb), designated Mersmab1, which potently blocks MERS-CoV entry into human cells. Biochemical assays reveal that Mersmab1 specifically binds to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the MERS-CoV spike protein and thereby competitively blocks the binding of the RBD to its cellular receptor, dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4). Furthermore, alanine scanning of the RBD has identified several residues at the DPP4-binding surface that serve as neutralizing epitopes for Mersmab1. These results suggest that if humanized, Mersmab1 could potentially function as a therapeutic antibody for treating and preventing MERS-CoV infections. Additionally, Mersmab1 may facilitate studies of the conformation and antigenicity of MERS-CoV RBD and thus will guide rational design of MERS-CoV subunit vaccines. IMPORTANCE MERS-CoV is spreading in the human population and causing severe respiratory diseases with over 40% fatality. No vaccine is currently available to prevent MERS-CoV infections. Here, we have produced a neutralizing monoclonal antibody with the capacity to effectively block MERS-CoV entry into permissive human cells. If humanized, this antibody may be used as a prophylactic and therapeutic agent against MERS-CoV infections. Specifically, when given to a person (e.g., a patient's family member or a health care worker) either before or after exposure to MERS-CoV, the humanized antibody may prevent or inhibit MERSCoV infection, thereby stopping the spread of MERS-CoV in humans. This antibody can also serve as a useful tool to guide the design of effective MERS-CoV vaccines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science