Fc-γR-dependent antibody effector functions are required for vaccine-mediated protection against antigen-shifted variants of SARS-CoV-2

Samantha R. Mackin, Pritesh Desai, Bradley M. Whitener, Courtney E. Karl, Meizi Liu, Ralph S. Baric, Darin K. Edwards, Taras M. Chicz, Ryan P. McNamara, Galit Alter, Michael S. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Emerging severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants with antigenic changes in the spike protein are neutralized less efficiently by serum antibodies elicited by legacy vaccines against the ancestral Wuhan-1 virus. Nonetheless, these vaccines, including mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2, retained their ability to protect against severe disease and death, suggesting that other aspects of immunity control infection in the lung. Vaccine-elicited antibodies can bind Fc gamma receptors (FcγRs) and mediate effector functions against SARS-CoV-2 variants, and this property correlates with improved clinical coronavirus disease 2019 outcome. However, a causal relationship between Fc effector functions and vaccine-mediated protection against infection has not been established. Here, using passive and active immunization approaches in wild-type and FcγR-knockout mice, we determined the requirement for Fc effector functions to control SARS-CoV-2 infection. The antiviral activity of passively transferred immune serum was lost against multiple SARS-CoV-2 strains in mice lacking expression of activating FcγRs, especially murine FcγR III (CD16), or depleted of alveolar macrophages. After immunization with the pre-clinical mRNA-1273 vaccine, control of Omicron BA.5 infection in the respiratory tract also was lost in mice lacking FcγR III. Our passive and active immunization studies in mice suggest that Fc–FcγR engagement and alveolar macrophages are required for vaccine-induced antibody-mediated protection against infection by antigenically changed SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Omicron strains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-580
Number of pages12
JournalNature microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


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