bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology. 2021-03-01;

Negligible impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants on CD4 + and CD8 + T cell reactivity in COVID-19 exposed donors and vaccinees

Tarke A, Sidney J, Methot N, Zhang Y, Dan JM, Goodwin B, Rubiro P, Sutherland A, da Silva Antunes R, Frazier A, Rawlings SA, Smith DM, Peters B, Scheuermann RH, Weiskopf D, Crotty S, Grifoni A, Sette A

PMID: 33688655


The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants highlighted the need to better understand adaptive immune responses to this virus. It is important to address whether also CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses are affected, because of the role they play in disease resolution and modulation of COVID-19 disease severity. Here we performed a comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses from COVID-19 convalescent subjects recognizing the ancestral strain, compared to variant lineages B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and CAL.20C as well as recipients of the Moderna (mRNA-1273) or Pfizer/BioNTech (BNT162b2) COVID-19 vaccines. Similarly, we demonstrate that the sequences of the vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes are not affected by the mutations found in the variants analyzed. Overall, the results demonstrate that CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses in convalescent COVID-19 subjects or COVID-19 mRNA vaccinees are not substantially affected by mutations found in the SARS-CoV-2 variants.