Cross-reactivity of SARS-CoV structural protein antibodies against SARS-CoV-2

Timothy A. Bates, Jules B. Weinstein, Scotland Farley, Hans C. Leier, William B. Messer, Fikadu G. Tafesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there remain unanswered questions regarding the nature and significance of the humoral immune response toward other coronavirus infections. Here, we investigate the cross-reactivity of antibodies raised against the first severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) for their reactivity toward SARS-CoV-2. We extensively characterize a selection of 10 antibodies covering all of the SARS-CoV structural proteins: spike, membrane, nucleocapsid, and envelope. Although nearly all of the examined SARS-CoV antibodies display some level of reactivity to SARS-CoV-2, we find only partial cross-neutralization for the spike antibodies. The implications of our work are two-fold. First, we establish a set of antibodies with known reactivity to both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, which will allow further study of both viruses. Second, we provide empirical evidence of the high propensity for antibody cross-reactivity between distinct strains of human coronaviruses, which is critical information for designing diagnostic and vaccine strategies for COVID-19. Bates et al. extensively examine the cross-reactivity of selected monoclonal antibodies raised against SARS-CoV structural proteins with SARS-CoV-2. Although most SARS-CoV antibodies display remarkable cross-reactivity toward SARS-CoV-2 proteins, the spike antibodies of SARS-CoV show minimal cross-neutralization of live SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108737
JournalCell Reports
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 16 2021


  • COVID-19
  • CSARS-CoV-2
  • antibody
  • cross-reactivity
  • envelope membrane
  • nucleocapsid
  • spike

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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