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Non-neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 N-terminal domain antibodies protect mice against severe disease using Fc-mediated effector functions

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Antibodies perform both neutralizing and non-neutralizing effector functions that protect against certain pathogen-induced diseases. A human antibody directed at the SARS-CoV-2 Spike N-terminal domain (NTD), DH1052, was recently shown to be non-neutralizing yet it protected mice and cynomolgus macaques from severe disease. The mechanisms of this non-neutralizing antibody-mediated protection are unknown. Here we show that Fc effector functions mediate non-neutralizing antibody (non-nAb) protection against SARS-CoV-2 MA10 viral challenge in mice. Though non-nAb infusion did not suppress infectious viral titers in the lung as potently as NTD neutralizing antibody (nAb) infusion, disease markers including gross lung discoloration were similar in nAb and non-nAb groups. Fc functional knockout substitutions abolished non-nAb protection and increased viral titers in the nAb group. Finally, Fc enhancement increased non-nAb protection relative to WT, supporting a positive association between Fc functionality and degree of protection in SARS-CoV-2 infection. This study demonstrates that non-nAbs can utilize Fc-mediated mechanisms to lower viral load and prevent lung damage due to coronavirus infection.