Multivalent antigen display is a well-established design principle to enhance humoral immunity elicited by subunit vaccines. Protein-based virus-like particles (VLPs) are an important vaccine platform that implements this principle but also contain thymus-dependent off-target epitopes, thereby generating neutralizing and defocused antibody responses against the scaffold itself. Here, we present DNA origami as an alternative platform to display the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2. DNA-based scaffolds provide nanoscale control over antigen organization and, as thymus-independent antigens, are expected to induce only extrafollicular B-cell responses. Our icosahedral DNA-based VLPs elicited valency-dependent BCR signaling in two reporter B-cell lines, with corresponding increases in RBD-specific antibody responses following sequential immunization in mice. Mouse sera also neutralized the Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2—but did not contain boosted, DNA-specific antibodies. Thus, multivalent display using DNA origami can enhance immunogenicity of protein antigens without generating scaffold-directed immunological memory and may prove useful for rational vaccine design.

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