Hetero-bivalent nanobodies provide broad-spectrum protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern including Omicron

Huan Ma, Xinghai Zhang, Peiyi Zheng, Peter H. Dube, Weihong Zeng, Shaohong Chen, Qingyu Cheng, Yunru Yang, Yan Wu, Junhui Zhou, Xiaowen Hu, Yan Xiang, Huajun Zhang, Sandra Chiu, Tengchuan Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


SARS-CoV-2 variants with adaptive mutations have continued to emerge, causing fresh waves of infection even amongst vaccinated population. The development of broad-spectrum antivirals is thus urgently needed. We previously developed two hetero-bivalent nanobodies (Nbs), aRBD-2-5 and aRBD-2-7, with potent neutralization activity against the wild-type (WT) Wuhan isolated SARS-CoV-2, by fusing aRBD-2 with aRBD-5 and aRBD-7, respectively. Here, we resolved the crystal structures of these Nbs in complex with the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein, and found that aRBD-2 contacts with highly-conserved RBD residues and retains binding to the RBD of the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Delta plus, Kappa, Lambda, Omicron BA.1, and BA.2 variants. In contrast, aRBD-5 and aRBD-7 bind to less-conserved RBD epitopes non-overlapping with the epitope of aRBD-2, and do not show apparent binding to the RBD of some variants. However, when fused with aRBD-2, they effectively enhance the overall binding affinity. Consistently, aRBD-2-5-Fc and aRBD-2-7-Fc potently neutralized all of the tested authentic or pseudotyped viruses, including WT, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2. Furthermore, aRBD-2-5-Fc provided prophylactic protection against the WT and mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 in mice, and conferred protection against the Omicron BA.1 variant in hamsters prophylactically and therapeutically, indicating that aRBD-2-5-Fc could potentially benefit the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 caused by the emerging variants of concern. Our strategy provides new solutions in the development of broad-spectrum therapeutic antibodies for COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-842
Number of pages12
JournalCell Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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