The SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccine elicits more RBD-focused neutralization, but with broader antibody binding within the RBD

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Author Name

Allison J Greaney

Andrea N Loes

Andrea N Loes

Tyler N Starr


Keara Malone

Helen Y Chu

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The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants with mutations in key antibody epitopes has raised concerns that antigenic evolution will erode immunity. The susceptibility of immunity to viral evolution is shaped in part by the breadth of epitopes targeted. Here we compare the specificity of antibodies elicited by the mRNA-1273 vaccine versus natural infection. The neutralizing activity of vaccine-elicited antibodies is even more focused on the spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) than for infection-elicited antibodies. However, within the RBD, binding of vaccine-elicited antibodies is more broadly distributed across epitopes than for infection-elicited antibodies. This greater binding breadth means single RBD mutations have less impact on neutralization by vaccine sera than convalescent sera. Therefore, antibody immunity acquired by different means may have differing susceptibility to erosion by viral evolution.

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