Engineered single-domain antibodies with high protease resistance and thermal stability.

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Journal titlePLoS One
Pagese28218–; # of pages: 15
AbstractThe extreme pH and protease-rich environment of the upper gastrointestinal tract is a major obstacle facing orally-administered protein therapeutics, including antibodies. Through protein engineering, several Clostridium difficile toxin A-specific heavy chain antibody variable domains (VHHs) were expressed with an additional disulfide bond by introducing Ala/Gly54Cys and Ile78Cys mutations. Mutant antibodies were compared to their wild-type counterparts with respect to expression yield, non-aggregation status, affinity for toxin A, circular dichroism (CD) structural signatures, thermal stability, protease resistance, and toxin A-neutralizing capacity. The mutant VHHs were found to be well expressed, although with lower yields compared to wild-type counterparts, were non-aggregating monomers, retained low nM affinity for toxin A, albeit the majority showed somewhat reduced affinity compared to wild-type counterparts, and were capable of in vitro toxin A neutralization in cell-based assays. Far-UV and near-UV CD spectroscopy consistently showed shifts in peak intensity and selective peak minima for wild-type and mutant VHH pairs; however, the overall CD profile remained very similar. A significant increase in the thermal unfolding midpoint temperature was observed for all mutants at both neutral and acidic pH. Digestion of the VHHs with the major gastrointestinal proteases, at biologically relevant concentrations, revealed a significant increase in pepsin resistance for all mutants and an increase in chymotrypsin resistance for the majority of mutants. Mutant VHH trypsin resistance was similar to that of wild-type VHHs, although the trypsin resistance of one VHH mutant was significantly reduced. Therefore, the introduction of a second disulfide bond in the hydrophobic core not only increases VHH thermal stability at neutral pH, as previously shown, but also represents a generic strategy to increase VHH stability at low pH and impart protease resistance, with only minor perturbations in target binding affinities. These are all desirable characteristics for the design of protein-based oral therapeutics.
Publication date
AffiliationNRC Institute for Biological Sciences; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number19115370
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Record identifier367ca2fb-f200-40c5-9bd1-9b31995797d1
Record created2011-12-20
Record modified2016-05-09
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