Mechanistic insights into engineered ACE2 receptor traps

In a current examine posted to bioRxiv*, researchers decided the cryo-electron microscopic (cryo-EM) buildings of engineered angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor traps.

Study: Computational pipeline provides mechanistic understanding of Omicron variant of concern neutralizing engineered ACE2 receptor traps. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock
Research: Computational pipeline provides mechanistic understanding of Omicron variant of concern neutralizing engineered ACE2 receptor traps. Picture Credit score: Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has acquired a number of mutations all through the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 Omicron has 37 mutations within the spike protein. The N-terminal (NTD) and receptor-binding (RBD) domains of the spike protein comprise 11 and 15 mutations, respectively, leading to decrease neutralization by plasma from convalescents or totally vaccinated topics.

Beforehand, the authors engineered ACE2 receptor traps for SARS-CoV-2 neutralization. They have been designed computationally and affinity-optimized by yeast floor show. ACE2 domains have been fused with fragment crystallizable (Fc) area of human IgG1 for extra binding avidity and to a neonatal Freceptor for elevated half-life. The buildings of computationally designed (CVD293) and affinity matured (CVD313) ACE2-Fc fusion constructs sure to RBD haven’t been decided.

The examine and findings

Within the current examine, researchers diminished the linker size between ACE2 and Fc to generate a brand new assemble (CVD432) and resolved cryo-EM buildings of the engineered traps (CVD293 and CVD432) sure to complete spike protein. First, the authors verified that CVD293 and CVD432 neutralize wild-type (WT) spike pseudo-typed virus.

The WT spike-CVD293 complicated had a 1-RBD-up state with full ACE2 occupancy and an considerable share of 1-RBD-up state with partial ACE2 occupancy, a 2-RBD-up state with 1-ACE2 occupancy, and 1-RBD-up state with no ACE2 occupancy, per trimer. In distinction, the WT spike-CVD432 complicated confirmed a 1-RBD-up state with full ACE2 occupancy, a 2-RBD-up state with 2-ACE2 occupancy, an all-RBD-down state, and different partial- or no-ACE2 occupancy 1- or 2-RBD-up states.

Subsequent, the staff developed a multi-model workflow combining cryo-EM and Rosetta protein modeling to compute the common predicted interface vitality. 10-residue overlapping stretches of ACE2 interface of every cryo-EM mannequin (spike-CVD239 and spike-CVD432) have been subjected to a CartesianSampler mover in Rosetta to generate 2000 fashions for every 10-residue stretch. These fashions have been all-atom minimized within the cryo-EM map utilizing FastRelax mover. The refinement protocol was iterated to generate almost 8000 fashions.

The atomic fashions have been ranked primarily based on Rosetta scores, and 80 fashions have been chosen. The interface helix residues of the 80 fashions have been superimposed to look at the convergence of side-chain conformations and intermolecular interactions. They famous that Q35 residue in CVD293 and CVD432, a excessive common side-chain root imply sq. deviation (RMSD) residue, shaped a hydrogen bond with the Q493 residue of WT spike in additional than 90% of atomic fashions.

Additional, they famous that low common side-chain RMSD residues in CVD293 and CVD432 shaped hydrophobic interactions with the corresponding spike residues. The authors reported that the low common side-chain RMSD hydrophobic residues engineered within the receptor traps improved the binding affinity.

The anticipated interface vitality for CVD293 was decrease (-58 Rosetta vitality items, REU) than the imply interface vitality for the 80 fashions (-45 REU) as a result of variations within the side-chain-mediated interactions. Q35 residue engineered in CVD293 had the biggest common side-chain RMSD per residue.

A number of spike mutations of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron have been recognized in different variants, albeit the variant has 14 distinctive modifications that enhance its binding affinity. Subsequent, the researchers assessed the binding of Omicron RBD to engineered ACE2 traps. To this finish, they generated fashions of Omicron RBD-CVD293 and Omicron RBD-CVD432 complicated by superimposing and substituting WT RBD in cryo-EM native refinement with Omicron RBD and minimized the complexes.

The interface vitality for residues within the Omicron RBD-CVD293 complicated was 10.77 REU and -8.5 REU for the Omicron RBD-CVD432 complicated, the interface vitality for Omicron RBD-WT ACE2 was -4.99 REU. The authors carried out biolayer interferometry (BLI) of CVD293 or CVD432 with Omicron RBD to check whether or not the anticipated interface energies corresponded to obvious binding affinities.

The dissociation constants (OkD) for Omicron RBD-CVD293 (4.2 nM) and Omicron RBD-CVD432 (0.53 nM) have been 10- and-100-fold decrease than that for Omicron RBD-WT RBD, respectively. Furthermore, neutralization assays have been carried out with recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus pseudo-typed with Delta or Omicron spike. CVD293 and CVD432 neutralized Delta and Omicron pseudoviruses, with 2-to-20-fold enhancements in half-maximal inhibition concentrations (IC50) over WT spike.


In abstract, the authors decided cryo-EM buildings of engineered ACE2 traps complexed with WT spike. Though informative, the cryo-EM offered a restricted decision on the ACE2-RBD interface, which prompted the event of a multi-model cryo-EM:Rosetta pipeline.

This pipeline revealed that distributed binding interactions on the interface between the 2 proteins have been simpler than one or two interactions on the interface and that the steadiness of particular person proteins was equally as essential as the steadiness of the complicated.

Additional, Omicron RBD binding to receptor traps was experimentally validated utilizing BLI and pseudovirus neutralization, which confirmed that ACE2 traps designed for the WT spike have been strong in opposition to the mutant spike (of Omicron). General, the examine exemplified how cryo-EM and computation modeling might be mixed to enhance the design-build-test cycle to engineer biotherapeutics.  

*Necessary discover

bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific stories that aren’t peer-reviewed and, subsequently, shouldn’t be considered conclusive, information medical follow/health-related habits, or handled as established info.

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