EMBO Rep. 2023 Dec 6;24(12):e57724. doi: 10.15252/embr.202357724. Epub 2023 Nov 2.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) enters host cells by first engaging its cellular receptor angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to induce conformational changes in the virus-encoded spike protein and fusion between the viral and target cell membranes. Here, we report that certain monoclonal neutralizing antibodies against distinct epitopic regions of the receptor-binding domain of the spike can replace ACE2 to serve as a receptor and efficiently support membrane fusion and viral infectivity in vitro. These receptor-like antibodies can function in the form of a complex of their soluble immunoglobulin G with Fc-gamma receptor I, a chimera of their antigen-binding fragment with the transmembrane domain of ACE2 or a membrane-bound B cell receptor, indicating that ACE2 and its specific interaction with the spike protein are dispensable for SARS-CoV-2 entry. These results suggest that antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 may help expand the viral tropism to otherwise nonpermissive cell types with potential implications for viral transmission and pathogenesis.