Engineered ACE2-Fc counters murine lethal SARS-CoV-2 infection through direct neutralization and Fc-effector activities

bioRxiv. 2021 Nov 24;2021.11.24.469776. doi: 10.1101/2021.11.24.469776. Preprint


Soluble Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) constitutes an attractive antiviral capable of targeting a wide range of coronaviruses utilizing ACE2 as their receptor. Here, using structure-guided approaches, we developed divalent ACE2 molecules by grafting the extracellular ACE2-domain onto a human IgG1 or IgG3 (ACE2-Fc). These ACE2-Fcs harbor structurally validated mutations that enhance spike (S) binding and remove angiotensin enzymatic activity. The lead variant bound tightly to S, mediated in vitro neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) with sub-nanomolar IC 50 and was capable of robust Fc-effector functions, including antibody-dependent-cellular cytotoxicity, phagocytosis and complement deposition. When tested in a stringent K18-hACE2 mouse model, it delayed death or effectively resolved lethal SARS-CoV-2 infection in a prophylactic or therapeutic setting utilizing the combined effect of neutralization and Fc-effector functions. These data confirm the utility of ACE2-Fcs as valuable agents in preventing and eliminating SARS-CoV-2 infection and demonstrate that ACE2-Fc therapeutic activity require Fc-effector functions.

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  • Preprint