SARS-CoV-2 infection-which involves both cell attachment and membrane fusion-relies on the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which is paradoxically found at low levels in the respiratory tract1-3, suggesting that there may be additional mechanisms facilitating infection. Here we show that C-type lectin receptors, DC-SIGN, L-SIGN and the sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin 1 (SIGLEC1) function as attachment receptors by enhancing ACE2-mediated infection and modulating the neutralizing activity of different classes of spike-specific antibodies. Antibodies to the amino-terminal domain or to the conserved site at the base of the receptor-binding domain, while poorly neutralizing infection of ACE2-overexpressing cells, effectively block lectin-facilitated infection. Conversely, antibodies to the receptor binding motif, while potently neutralizing infection of ACE2-overexpressing cells, poorly neutralize infection of cells expressing DC-SIGN or L-SIGN and trigger fusogenic rearrangement of the spike, promoting cell-to-cell fusion. Collectively, these findings identify a lectin-dependent pathway that enhances ACE2-dependent infection by SARS-CoV-2 and reveal distinct mechanisms of neutralization by different classes of spike-specific antibodies.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.