Publication I July 27, 2022

Characterization of binding interactions of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and DNA-peptide nanostructures

Binding interactions of the spike proteins of the severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to a peptide fragment derived from the human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) receptor are investigated. The peptide is employed as capture moiety in enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) and quantitative binding interaction measurements that are based on fluorescence proximity sensing (switchSENSE®). In both techniques, the peptide is presented on an oligovalent DNA nanostructure, in order to assess the impact of mono- versus trivalent binding modes. As the analyte, the spike protein and several of its subunits are tested as well as inactivated SARS-CoV-2 and pseudo viruses. While binding of the peptide to the full-length spike protein can be observed, the subunits RBD and S1 do not exhibit binding in the employed concentrations. Variations of the amino acid sequence of the recombinant full-length spike proteins furthermore influence binding behavior. The peptide was coupled to DNA nanostructures that form a geometric complement to the trimeric structure of the spike protein binding sites. An increase in binding strength for trimeric peptide presentation compared to single peptide presentation could be generally observed in ELISA and was quantified in switchSENSE® measurements. Binding to inactivated wild type viruses could be shown as well as qualitatively different binding behavior of the Alpha and Beta variants compared to the wild type virus strain in pseudo virus models.