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Pre-existing polymerase-specific T cells expand in abortive seronegative SARS-CoV-2

Swadling, L; Diniz, MO; Schmidt, NM; Amin, OE; Chandran, A; Shaw, E; Pade, C; ... Maini, MK; + view all (2022) Pre-existing polymerase-specific T cells expand in abortive seronegative SARS-CoV-2. Nature , 601 pp. 110-117. 10.1038/s41586-021-04186-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Individuals with potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 do not necessarily develop PCR or antibody positivity, suggesting some may clear sub-clinical infection before seroconversion. T-cells can contribute to the rapid clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections1-3. We hypothesised that pre-existing memory T-cell responses, with cross-protective potential against SARS-CoV-24-11, would expand in vivo to support rapid viral control, aborting infection. We measured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T-cells, including those against the early transcribed replication transcription complex (RTC)12,13, in intensively monitored healthcare workers (HCW) remaining repeatedly negative by PCR, antibody binding, and neutralisation (seronegative HCW, SN-HCW). SN-HCW had stronger, more multispecific memory T-cells than an unexposed pre-pandemic cohort, and more frequently directed against the RTC than the structural protein-dominated responses seen post-detectable infection (matched concurrent cohort). SN-HCW with the strongest RTC-specific T-cells had an increase in IFI27, a robust early innate signature of SARS-CoV-214, suggesting abortive infection. RNA-polymerase within RTC was the largest region of high sequence conservation across human seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV) and SARS-CoV-2 clades. RNA-polymerase was preferentially targeted (amongst regions tested) by T-cells from pre-pandemic cohorts and SN-HCW. RTC epitope-specific T-cells cross-recognising HCoV variants were identified in SN-HCW. Enriched pre-existing RNA-polymerase-specific T-cells expanded in vivo to preferentially accumulate in the memory response after putative abortive compared to overt SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data highlight RTC-specific T-cells as targets for vaccines against endemic and emerging Coronaviridae.

Type: Article
Title: Pre-existing polymerase-specific T cells expand in abortive seronegative SARS-CoV-2
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04186-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-04186-8
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 Springer Nature Limited. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Immunological memory, Infection, SARS-CoV-2, T cells
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Infection and Immunity
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Experimental and Translational Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Clinical Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10139213
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