Cell reports. Medicine. 2021-07-20; 2.7: 100355.

Impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants on the total CD4+ and CD8+ T cell reactivity in infected or vaccinated individuals

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

PMID: 34230917


The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants with evidence of antibody escape highlight the importance of addressing whether the total CD4 and CD8 T cell recognition is also affected. Here, we compare SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 and CD8 T cells against the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and CAL.20C lineages in COVID-19 convalescents and in recipients of the Moderna (mRNA-1273) or Pfizer/BioNTech (BNT162b2) COVID-19 vaccines. The total reactivity against SARS-CoV-2 variants is similar in terms of magnitude and frequency of response, with decreases in the 10%-22% range observed in some assay/VOC combinations. A total of 7% and 3% of previously identified CD4 and CD8 T cell epitopes, respectively, are affected by mutations in the various VOCs. Thus, the SARS-CoV-2 variants analyzed here do not significantly disrupt the total SARS-CoV-2 T cell reactivity; however, the decreases observed highlight the importance for active monitoring of T cell reactivity in the context of SARS-CoV-2 evolution.