Nirsevimab binding-site conservation in respiratory syncytial virus fusion glycoprotein worldwide between 1956 and 2021: an analysis of observational study sequencing data


Deidre Wilkins BSc et al.

Nirsevimab is an extended half-life monoclonal antibody to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) fusion protein that has been developed to protect infants for an entire RSV season. Previous studies have shown that the nirsevimab binding site is highly conserved. However, investigations of the geotemporal evolution of potential escape variants in recent (ie, 2015–2021) RSV seasons have been minimal. Here, we examine prospective RSV surveillance data to assess the geotemporal prevalence of RSV A and B, and functionally characterise the effect of the nirsevimab binding-site substitutions identified between 2015 and 2021. Methods We assessed the geotemporal prevalence of RSV A and B and nirsevimab binding-site conservation between 2015 and 2021 from three prospective RSV molecular surveillance studies (the US-based OUTSMART-RSV, the global INFORM-RSV, and a pilot study in South Africa). Nirsevimab binding-site substitutions were assessed in an RSV microneutralisation susceptibility assay. We contextualised our findings by assessing fusion-protein sequence diversity from 1956 to 2021 relative to other respiratory-virus envelope glycoproteins using RSV fusion protein sequences published in NCBI GenBank.