Bacteriophages infecting lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are widely acknowledged as the main cause of milk fermentation failures. In this study, we describe the surface-expression as well as the secretion of two functional llama heavy-chain antibody fragments, one binding to the major capsid protein (MCP) and the other to the receptor-binding proteins (RBP) of the lactococcal bacteriophage p2, by lactobacilli in order to neutralise lactococcal phages.
The antibody fragment VHH5 that is directed against the RBP, was fused to a c-myc tag and expressed in a secreted form by a Lactobacillus strain. The fragment VHH2 that is binding to the MCP, was fused to an E-tag and anchored on the surface of the lactobacilli. Surface expression of VHH2 was confirmed by flow cytometry using an anti-E-tag antibody. Efficient binding of both the VHH2 and the secreted VHH5 fragment to the phage antigens was shown in ELISA. Scanning electron microscopy showed that lactobacilli expressing VHH2 anchored at their surface were able to bind lactococcal phages. A neutralisation assay also confirmed that the secreted VHH5 and the anchored VHH2 fragments prevented the adsorption of lactococcal phages to their host cells.
Lactobacilli were able to express functional VHH fragments in both a secreted and a cell surface form and reduced phage infection of lactococcal cells. Lactobacilli expressing llama heavy-chain antibody fragments represent a novel way to limit phage infection.
Sepsis is a considerable health problem and a burden on the health care system. Endotoxin, or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), present in the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria, is responsible for more than 50% of the sepsis cases and is, therefore, a legitimate target for therapeutic approaches against sepsis. In this study, we selected and characterized a llama single-chain antibody fragment (VHH) directed to Neisseria meningitidis LPS. The VHH, designated VHH 5G, showed affinity to purified LPS as well as to LPS on the surfaces of the bacteria. Epitope mapping using a panel of N. meningitidis mutants revealed that VHH 5G recognizes an epitope in the inner core of LPS, and as expected, the VHH proved to have broad specificity for LPS from different bacteria. Furthermore, this VHH blocked binding of LPS to target cells of the immune system, resulting in the inhibition of LPS signaling in whole blood. Moreover, it was found to remove LPS efficiently from aqueous solutions, including serum. The selected anti-LPS VHH is a leading candidate for therapies against LPS-mediated sepsis.
For efficient prevention of viral infections and cross protection, simultaneous targeting of multiple viral epitopes is a powerful strategy. Llama heavy chain antibody fragments (VHH) against the trimeric envelope proteins of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (Fusion protein), Rabies virus (Glycoprotein) and H5N1 Influenza (Hemagglutinin 5) were selected from llama derived immune libraries by phage display. Neutralizing VHH recognizing different epitopes in the receptor binding sites on the spikes with affinities in the low nanomolar range were identified for all the three viruses by viral neutralization assays. By fusion of VHH with variable linker lengths, multimeric constructs were made that improved neutralization potencies up to 4,000-fold for RSV, 1,500-fold for Rabies virus and 75-fold for Influenza H5N1. The potencies of the VHH constructs were similar or better than best performing monoclonal antibodies. The cross protection capacity against different viral strains was also improved for all three viruses, both by multivalent (two or three identical VHH) and biparatopic (two different VHH) constructs. By combining a VHH neutralizing RSV subtype A, but not subtype B with a poorly neutralizing VHH with high affinity for subtype B, a biparatopic construct was made with low nanomolar neutralizing potency against both subtypes. Trivalent anti-H5N1 VHH neutralized both Influenza H5N1 clade1 and 2 in a pseudotype assay and was very potent in neutralizing the NIBRG-14 Influenza H5N1 strain with IC50 of 9 picomolar. Bivalent and biparatopic constructs against Rabies virus cross neutralized both 10 different Genotype 1 strains and Genotype 5.
The results show that multimerization of VHH fragments targeting multiple epitopes on a viral trimeric spike protein is a powerful tool for anti-viral therapy to achieve “best-in-class” and broader neutralization capacity.
Members of the Camelidae family produce immunoglobulins devoid of light chains. We have characterized variable domains of these heavy chain antibodies, the VHH, from llamas immunized with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope protein gp120 in order to identify VHH that can inhibit HIV-1 infection. To increase the chances of isolating neutralizing VHH, we employed a functional selection approach, involving panning of phage libraries expressing the VHH repertoire on recombinant gp120, followed by a competitive elution with soluble CD4. By immunizing with gp120 derived from an HIV-1 subtype B′/C primary isolate, followed by panning on gp120 from HIV-1 isolates of subtypes A, B, and C, we could select for VHH with cross-subtype neutralizing activity. Three VHH able to neutralize HIV-1 primary isolates of subtypes B and C were characterized. These bound to recombinant gp120 with affinities close to the suggested affinity ceiling for in vivo-maturated antibodies and competed with soluble CD4 for this binding, indicating that their mechanism of neutralization involves interacting with the functional envelope spike prior to binding to CD4. The most potent VHH in terms of low 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) and IC90 values and cross-subtype reactivity was A12. These results indicate that camelid VHH can be potent HIV-1 entry inhibitors. Since VHH are stable and can be produced at a relatively low cost, they may be considered for applications such as HIV-1 microbicide development. Antienvelope VHH might also prove useful in defining neutralizing and nonneutralizing epitopes on HIV-1 envelope proteins, with implications for HIV-1 vaccine design.
Recombinant antibodies are powerful tools in engineering of novel diagnostics. Due to the small size and stable nature of llama antibody domains selected antibodies can serve as a detection reagent in multiplexed and sensitive assays for M. tuberculosis.
Antibodies for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) recognition were raised in Alpaca, and, by phage display, recombinant variable domains of heavy-chain antibodies (VHH) binding to M. tuberculosis antigens were isolated. Two phage display selection strategies were followed: one direct selection using semi-purified protein antigen, and a depletion strategy with lysates, aiming to avoid cross-reaction to other mycobacteria. Both panning methods selected a set of binders with widely differing complementarity determining regions. Selected recombinant VHHs were produced in E. coli and shown to bind immobilized lysate in direct Enzymelinked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) tests and soluble antigen by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis. All tested VHHs were specific for tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria (M. tuberculosis, M. bovis) and exclusively recognized an immunodominant 16 kDa heat shock protein (hsp). The highest affinity VHH had a dissociation constant (KD) of 4×10−10 M.
A broad set of different llama antibodies specific for 16 kDa heat shock protein of M. tuberculosis is available. This protein is highly stable and abundant in M. tuberculosis. The VHH that detect this protein are applied in a robust SPR sensor for identification of tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria.
A heavy chain–only antibody isolated from a llama repeatedly immunized with trimeric HIV-1 Env neutralizes 96% of tested HIV-1 strains.
Llamas (Lama glama) naturally produce heavy chain–only antibodies (Abs) in addition to conventional Abs. The variable regions (VHH) in these heavy chain–only Abs demonstrate comparable affinity and specificity for antigens to conventional immunoglobulins despite their much smaller size. To date, immunizations in humans and animal models have yielded only Abs with limited ability to neutralize HIV-1. In this study, a VHH phagemid library generated from a llama that was multiply immunized with recombinant trimeric HIV-1 envelope proteins (Envs) was screened directly for HIV-1 neutralization. One VHH, L8CJ3 (J3), neutralized 96 of 100 tested HIV-1 strains, encompassing subtypes A, B, C, D, BC, AE, AG, AC, ACD, CD, and G. J3 also potently neutralized chimeric simian-HIV strains with HIV subtypes B and C Env. The sequence of J3 is highly divergent from previous anti–HIV-1 VHH and its own germline sequence. J3 achieves broad and potent neutralization of HIV-1 via interaction with the CD4-binding site of HIV-1 Env. This study may represent a new benchmark for immunogens to be included in B cell–based vaccines and supports the development of VHH as anti–HIV-1 microbicides.
Enzymes such as lactoperoxidase and glucose oxidase (GOx) are used as antimicrobial agents in oral care products. Their low specificities and substantiveness can be reduced by covalent coupling of antimicrobial molecules to antibodies. Variable domains (VHH) derived from llama heavy-chain antibodies are particularly suited for such an approach. The antibodies are composed solely of heavy-chain dimers; therefore, production of active fusion proteins by using molecular biology-based techniques is less complicated than production by use of conventional antibodies. In this study, a fusion protein consisting of VHH and GOx was constructed and expressed by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. A llama was immunized with Streptococcus mutans strain HG982. Subsequently, B lymphocytes were isolated and cDNA fragments encoding the VHH fragments were obtained by reverse transcription-PCR. After construction of a VHH library in Escherichia coli and screening of the library against mutans group streptococci and Streptococcus sanguinis strains, we found two VHH fragments with high specificities for S. mutans strains. A GOx gene was linked to the two VHH genes and cloned into S. cerevisiae yeasts. The yeasts expressed and secreted the recombinant proteins into the growth medium. The test of binding of fusion proteins to oral bacteria through their VHH fragments showed that S. mutans had been specifically targeted by GOx-S120, one of the fusion protein constructs. A low concentration of the fusion protein was also able to selectively kill S. mutans within 20 min in the presence of lactoperoxidase and potassium iodide. These findings demonstrate that the fusion protein GOx-VHH is potentially valuable in the selective killing of target bacteria such as S. mutans.
As part of research exploring the feasibility of using antibody fragments to inhibit the growth of organisms implicated in dandruff, we isolated antibody fragments that bind to a cell surface protein of Malassezia furfur in the presence of shampoo. We found that phage display of llama single-domain antibody fragments (VHHs) can be extended to very harsh conditions, such as the presence of shampoo containing nonionic and anionic surfactants. We selected several VHHs that bind to the cell wall protein Malf1 of M. furfur, a fungus implicated in causing dandruff. In addition to high stability in the presence of shampoo, these VHHs are also stable under other denaturing conditions, such as high urea concentrations. Many of the stable VHHs were found to contain arginine at position 44. Replacement of the native amino acid at position 44 with arginine in the most stable VHH that lacked this arginine resulted in a dramatic further increase in the stability. The combination of the unique properties of VHHs together with applied phage display and protein engineering is a powerful method for obtaining highly stable VHHs that can be used in a wide range of applications.
Recombinant single domain antibody fragments (VHHs) that derive from the unusual camelid heavy chain only IgG class (HCAbs) have many favourable properties compared with single-chain antibodies prepared from conventional IgG. As a result, VHHs have become widely used as binding reagents and are beginning to show potential as therapeutic agents. To date, the source of VHH genetic material has been camels and llamas despite their large size and limited availability. Here we demonstrate that the smaller, more tractable and widely available alpaca is an excellent source of VHH coding DNA. Alpaca sera IgG consists of about 50% HCAbs, mostly of the short-hinge variety. Sequencing of DNA encoding more than 50 random VHH and hinge domains permitted the design of PCR primers that will amplify virtually all alpaca VHH coding DNAs for phage display library construction. Alpacas were immunized with ovine tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) and a VHH phage display library was prepared from a lymph node that drains the sites of immunizations and successfully employed in the isolation of VHHs that bind and neutralize ovine TNFα.
Recombinant antibody; VHH; HCAb; camelid; alpaca; TNF
The 16 kDa heat shock protein (HSP) is an immuno-dominant antigen, used in diagnosis of infectious Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb.) causing tuberculosis (TB). Its use in serum-based diagnostics is limited, but for the direct identification of M.tb. bacteria in sputum or cultures it may represent a useful tool. Recently, a broad set of twelve 16 kDa specific heavy chain llama antibodies (VHH) has been isolated, and their utility for diagnostic applications was explored.
To identify the epitopes recognized by the nine (randomly selected from a set of twelve 16 kDa specific VHH antibodies) distinct VHH antibodies, 14 overlapping linear epitopes (each 20 amino acid long) were characterized using direct and sandwich ELISA techniques. Seven out of 14 epitopes were recognized by 8 out of 9 VHH antibodies. The two highest affinity binders B-F10 and A-23 were found to bind distinct epitopes. Sandwich ELISA and SPR experiments showed that only B-F10 was suitable as secondary antibody with both B-F10 and A-23 as anchoring antibodies. To explain this behavior, the epitopes were matched to the putative 3D structure model. Electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry and size exclusion chromatography were used to determine the higher order conformation. A homodimer model best explained the differential immunological reactivity of A-23 and B-F10 against heat-treated M.tb. lysates.
The concentrations of secreted antigens of M.tb. in sputum are too low for immunological detection and existing kits are only used for identifying M.tb. in cultures. Here we describe how specific combinations of VHH domains could be used to detect the intracellular HSP antigen. Linked to methods of pre-concentrating M.tb. cells prior to lysis, HSP detection may enable the development of protein-based diagnostics of sputum samples and earlier diagnosis of diseases.
Unlike conventional antibodies, heavy chain only antibodies derived from camel contain a single variable domain (VHH) and two constant domains (CH2 and CH3). Cloned and isolated VHHs possess unique properties that enable them to excel conventional therapeutic antibodies and their smaller antigen-binding fragments in cancer targeting and therapy. VHHs express low immunogenicity, are highly robust and easy to manufacture and have the ability to recognize hidden or uncommon epitopes. We highlight the utility of VHH in design of new molecular, multifunctional particulate and immune cell-based systems for combating HER2+ breast cancer.
Chimeric Antigen Receptors; Heavy Chain Only Antibodies; HER2; Nanotechnology; Single Variable Domain
Recently, we described llama antibody fragments (VHH) that can neutralize human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 (HIV-1). These VHH were obtained after selective elution of phages carrying an immune library raised against gp120 of HIV-1 subtype B/C CN54 with soluble CD4. We describe here a new, family-specific approach to obtain the largest possible diversity of related VHH that compete with soluble CD4 for binding to the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein. The creation of this family-specific library of homologous VHH has enabled us to isolate phages carrying similar nucleotide sequences as the parental VHH. These VHH displayed varying binding affinities and neutralization phenotypes to a panel of different strains and subtypes of HIV-1. Sequence analysis of the homologs showed that the C-terminal three amino acids of the CDR3 loop were crucial in determining the specificity of these VHH for different subtype C HIV-1 strains. There was a positive correlation between affinity of VHH binding to gp120 of HIV-1 IIIB and the breadth of neutralization of diverse HIV-1 envelopes. The family-specific approach has therefore allowed us to better understand the interaction of the CD4-binding site antibodies with virus strain specificity and has potential use for the bioengineering of antibodies and HIV-1 vaccine development.
Antibodies; HIV; Human Immunodeficiency Virus; Kinetics; Retrovirus; Surface Plasmon Resonance; VHH; Llama Heavy Chain Antibodies; Neutralizing Antibodies; Phage Display
Many of the neutralising antibodies, isolated to date, display limited activities against the globally most prevalent HIV-1 subtypes A and C. Therefore, those subtypes are considered to be an important target for antibody-based therapy. Variable domains of llama heavy chain antibodies (VHH) have some superior properties compared with classical antibodies. Therefore we describe the application of trimeric forms of envelope proteins (Env), derived from HIV-1 of subtype A and B/C, for a prolonged immunization of two llamas. A panel of VHH, which interfere with CD4 binding to HIV-1 Env were selected with use of panning. The results of binding and competition assays to various Env, including a variant with a stabilized CD4-binding state (gp120Ds2), cross-competition experiments, maturation analysis and neutralisation assays, enabled us to classify the selected VHH into three groups. The VHH of group I were efficient mainly against viruses of subtype A, C and B′/C. The VHH of group II resemble the broadly neutralising antibody (bnmAb) b12, neutralizing mainly subtype B and C viruses, however some had a broader neutralisation profile. A representative of the third group, 2E7, had an even higher neutralization breadth, neutralizing 21 out of the 26 tested strains belonging to the A, A/G, B, B/C and C subtypes. To evaluate the contribution of certain amino acids to the potency of the VHH a small set of the mutants were constructed. Surprisingly this yielded one mutant with slightly improved neutralisation potency against 92UG37.A9 (subtype A) and 96ZM651.02 (subtype C). These findings and the well-known stability of VHH indicate the potential application of these VHH as anti-HIV-1 microbicides.
Dysregulation of PKCε is involved in several serious diseases such as cancer, type II diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, specific activators and inhibitors of PKCε hold promise as future therapeutics, in addition to being useful in research into PKCε regulated pathways. We have previously described llama single chain antibodies (VHHs) that specifically activate (A10, C1 and D1) or inhibit (E6 and G8) human recombinant PKCε. Here we report a thorough kinetic analysis of these VHHs. The inhibiting VHHs act as non-competitive inhibitors of PKCε activity, whereas the activating VHHs have several different modes of action, either increasing Vmax and/or decreasing Km values. We also show that the binding of the VHHs to PKCε is conformation-dependent, rendering the determination of affinities difficult. Apparent affinities are in the micromolar range based on surface plasmon resonance studies. Furthermore, the VHHs have no effect on the activity of rat PKCε nor can they bind the rat form of the protein in immunoprecipitation studies despite the 98% identity between the human and rat PKCε proteins. Finally, we show for the first time that the VHHs can influence PKCε function also in cells, since an activating VHH increases the rate of PKCε translocation in response to PMA in HeLa cells, whereas an inhibiting VHH slows down the translocation. These results give insight into the mechanisms of PKCε activity modulation and highlight the importance of protein conformation on VHH binding.
A series of expression cassettes which mediate secretion or surface display of antibody fragments was stably integrated in the chromosome of Lactobacillus paracasei. L. paracasei producing surface-anchored variable domain of llama heavy chain (VHH) (ARP1) directed against rotavirus showed efficient binding to rotavirus and protection in the mouse model of rotavirus infection.
Antibodies are important tools for experimental research and medical applications. Most antibodies are composed of two heavy and two light chains. Both chains contribute to the antigen-binding site which is usually flat or concave. In addition to these conventional antibodies, llamas, other camelids, and sharks also produce antibodies composed only of heavy chains. The antigen-binding site of these unusual heavy chain antibodies (hcAbs) is formed only by a single domain, designated VHH in camelid hcAbs and VNAR in shark hcAbs. VHH and VNAR are easily produced as recombinant proteins, designated single domain antibodies (sdAbs) or nanobodies. The CDR3 region of these sdAbs possesses the extraordinary capacity to form long fingerlike extensions that can extend into cavities on antigens, e.g., the active site crevice of enzymes. Other advantageous features of nanobodies include their small size, high solubility, thermal stability, refolding capacity, and good tissue penetration in vivo. Here we review the results of several recent proof-of-principle studies that open the exciting perspective of using sdAbs for modulating immune functions and for targeting toxins and microbes.
Single domain antibodies; Recombinant antibodies; VHH; Nanobody; Enzyme inhibitors; Virus neutralization
Small recombinant antibody fragments (e.g. scFvs and VHHs), which are highly tissue permeable, are being investigated for antivenom production as conventional antivenoms consisting of IgG or F(ab’)2 antibody fragments do not effectively neutralize venom toxins located in deep tissues. However, antivenoms composed entirely of small antibody fragments may have poor therapeutic efficacy due to their short serum half-lives. To increase serum persistence and maintain tissue penetration, we prepared low and high molecular mass antivenom antibodies. Four llama VHHs were isolated from an immune VHH-displayed phage library and were shown to have high affinity, in the low nM range, for α-cobratoxin (α–Cbtx), the most lethal component of Naja kaouthia venom. Subsequently, our highest affinity VHH (C2) was fused to a human Fc fragment to create a VHH2-Fc antibody that would offer prolonged serum persistence. After in planta (Nicotiana benthamiana) expression and purification, we show that our VHH2-Fc antibody retained high affinity binding to α–Cbtx. Mouse α–Cbtx challenge studies showed that our highest affinity VHHs (C2 and C20) and the VHH2-Fc antibody effectively neutralized lethality induced by α–Cbtx at an antibody:toxin molar ratio as low as ca. 0.75×:1. Further research towards the development of an antivenom therapeutic involving these anti-α-Cbtx VHHs and VHH2-Fc antibody molecules should involve testing them as a combination, to determine whether they maintain tissue penetration capability and low immunogenicity, and whether they exhibit improved serum persistence and therapeutic efficacy.
Monoclonal and recombinant antibodies are ubiquitous tools in diagnostics, therapeutics, and biotechnology. However, their biochemical properties lack optimal robustness, their bacterial production is not easy, and possibilities to create multifunctional fusion proteins based on them are limited. Moreover, the binding affinities of antibodies towards their antigens are suboptimal for many applications where they are commonly used. To address these issues we have made use of the concept of creating high binding affinity based on multivalent target recognition via exploiting some of the best features of immunoglobulins (Ig) and non-Ig-derived ligand-binding domains. We have constructed a small protein, named Neffin, comprised of a 118 aa llama Ig heavy chain variable domain fragment (VHH) fused to a ligand-tailored 57 aa SH3 domain. Neffin could be readily produced in large amounts (>18 mg/L) in the cytoplasm of E. coli, and bound with a subpicomolar affinity (Kd 0.54 pM) to its target, the HIV-1 Nef protein. When expressed in human cells Neffin could potently inhibit Nef function. Similar VHH-SH3 fusion proteins could be targeted against many other proteins of interest and could have widespread use in diverse medical and biotechnology applications where biochemical robustness and strong binding affinity are required.
Rotavirus is the main cause of viral gastroenteritis in young children. Therefore, the development of inexpensive antiviral products for the prevention and/or treatment of rotavirus disease remains a priority. Previously we have shown that a recombinant monovalent antibody fragment (referred to as Anti-Rotavirus Proteins or ARP1) derived from a heavy chain antibody of a llama immunised with rotavirus was able to neutralise rotavirus infection in a mouse model system. In the present work we investigated the specificity and neutralising activity of two llama antibody fragments, ARP1 and ARP3, against 13 cell culture adapted rotavirus strains of diverse genotypes. In addition, immunocapture electron microscopy (IEM) was performed to determine binding of ARP1 to clinical isolates and cell culture adapted strains. ARP1 and ARP3 were able to neutralise a broad variety of rotavirus serotypes/genotypes in vitro, and in addition, IEM showed specific binding to a variety of cell adapted strains as well as strains from clinical specimens. These results indicated that these molecules could potentially be used as immunoprophylactic and/or immunotherapeutic products for the prevention and/or treatment of infection of a broad range of clinically relevant rotavirus strains.
Llamas possess a class of unconventional immunoglobulins that have only heavy-chains; unpaired heavy variable domains are responsible for antigen binding. These domains have previously been cloned and expressed as single domain antibodies (sdAbs); they comprise the smallest known antigen binding fragments. SdAbs have been shown to bind antigens at >90°C and to refold after being denatured. To take advantage of the remarkable properties of sdAbs we constructed a large, semi-synthetic llama sdAb library. This library facilitated the rapid selection of binders to an array of biothreat targets. We selected sdAb specific for live vaccinia virus (a smallpox virus surrogate), hen egg lysozyme, cholera toxin, ricin, and staphylococcal enterotoxin B. The selected sdAb possessed high specificity as well as enhanced thermal stability in comparison to conventional IgG and scFv antibodies. We also determined equilibrium dissociation constants as well as demonstrated the use of several anti-toxin sdAbs as effective capture and reporter molecules in sandwich assays on the Luminex instrument. The ability to rapidly select such rugged antibodies will enhance the reliability of immunoassays by extending shelf-life, and the capacity to function in hostile environments.
Fy blood group antigens are carried by Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC), a red cells receptor for Plasmodium vivax broadly implicated in human health and diseases. Recombinant VHHs, or nanobodies, the smallest intact antigen binding fragment derivative from the heavy chain-only antibodies present in camelids, were prepared from a dromedary immunized against DARC N-terminal extracellular domain and selected for DARC binding. Described VHH, CA52 does recognize native DARC on cells. It inhibits P. vivax invasion of erythrocytes and displaces interleukin-8 bound to DARC. The targeted epitope overlaps the well defined DARC Fy6 epitope. KD of CA52-DARC equilibrium is sub-nanomolar hence ideal to develop diagnostic or therapeutic compounds. Immunocapture by immobilized CA52 yielded highly purified DARC from engineered K562 cells. This first report on a VHH with specificity for a red blood cell protein exemplifies VHHs’ potentialities to target, to purify and to modulate the function of cellular markers.
Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines; VHH; atypical chemokine receptor; Plasmodium vivax; Immunoaffinity; Cancer; Inflammation; HIV; Animals; Blood Group Antigens; immunology; metabolism; Camels; immunology; metabolism; Carrier Proteins; chemistry; immunology; metabolism; Chemokines; immunology; metabolism; Duffy Blood-Group System; Erythrocytes; immunology; metabolism; Humans; Immunoglobulins; immunology; metabolism; Interleukin-8; immunology; metabolism; Plasmodium vivax; immunology; metabolism; Receptors, Antigen; immunology; metabolism; Receptors, Cell Surface; Receptors, Chemokine; immunology; metabolism; Recombinant Proteins; immunology; metabolism
Single-domain antibody fragments (VHHs) have several beneficial properties as compared to conventional antibody fragments. However, their small size complicates their toxin- and virus-neutralizing capacity. We isolated 27 VHHs binding Escherichia coli heat-labile toxin and expressed these in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The most potent neutralizing VHH (LT109) was N-glycosylated, resulting in a large increase in molecular mass. This suggests that N-glycosylation of LT109 improves its neutralizing capacity. Indeed, deglycosylation of LT109 decreased its neutralizing capacity three- to fivefold. We also studied the effect of glycosylation of two previously isolated VHHs on their ability to neutralize foot-and-mouth disease virus. For this purpose, these VHHs that lacked potential N-glycosylation sites were genetically fused to another VHH that was known to be glycosylated. The resulting fusion proteins were also N-glycosylated. They neutralized the virus at at least fourfold-lower VHH concentrations as compared to the single, non-glycosylated VHHs and at at least 50-fold-lower VHH concentrations as compared to their deglycosylated counterparts. Thus, we have shown that N-glycosylation of VHHs contributes to toxin- and virus-neutralizing capacity.
Nanobody; Recombinant antibody; Neutralization; N-glycosylation; Yeast
Rotavirus-induced diarrhea is a life-threatening disease in immunocompromised individuals and in children in developing countries. We have developed a system for prophylaxis and therapy against rotavirus disease using transgenic rice expressing the neutralizing variable domain of a rotavirus-specific llama heavy-chain antibody fragment (MucoRice-ARP1). MucoRice-ARP1 was produced at high levels in rice seeds using an overexpression system and RNAi technology to suppress the production of major rice endogenous storage proteins. Orally administered MucoRice-ARP1 markedly decreased the viral load in immunocompetent and immunodeficient mice. The antibody retained in vitro neutralizing activity after long-term storage (>1 yr) and boiling and conferred protection in mice even after heat treatment at 94°C for 30 minutes. High-yield, water-soluble, and purification-free MucoRice-ARP1 thus forms the basis for orally administered prophylaxis and therapy against rotavirus infections.
The membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV-1 glycoprotein gp41 is targeted by the broadly neutralizing antibodies 2F5 and 4E10. To date, no immunization regimen in animals or humans has produced HIV-1 neutralizing MPER-specific antibodies. We immunized llamas with gp41-MPER proteoliposomes and selected a MPER-specific single chain antibody (VHH), 2H10, whose epitope overlaps with that of mAb 2F5. Bi-2H10, a bivalent form of 2H10, which displayed an approximately 20-fold increased affinity compared to the monovalent 2H10, neutralized various sensitive and resistant HIV-1 strains, as well as SHIV strains in TZM-bl cells. X-ray and NMR analyses combined with mutagenesis and modeling revealed that 2H10 recognizes its gp41 epitope in a helical conformation. Notably, tryptophan 100 at the tip of the long CDR3 is not required for gp41 interaction but essential for neutralization. Thus bi-2H10 is an anti-MPER antibody generated by immunization that requires hydrophobic CDR3 determinants in addition to epitope recognition for neutralization similar to the mode of neutralization employed by mAbs 2F5 and 4E10.
Due to the absence of an effective vaccine or cure for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), HIV-1 infections still result in high mortality. Two antibodies, 2F5 and 4E10, previously isolated from HIV-1 infected patients, prevent infections by binding to the MPER of gp41, a part of the virus that is difficult to access and only transiently exposed. Here, we immunized llamas with a gp41-based immunogen and subsequently isolated a small antibody fragment (VHH) that can easily access and recognize the MPER. We showed that a unit of two VHH, named bi-2H10, was indeed capable of preventing HIV-1 from infecting cells. We determined the three dimensional structure of the VHH and mapped its interaction site to an MPER region that overlaps with the 2F5 epitope. The 2H10 VHH displays a membrane binding component important for neutralization that resembles that of 2F5. In conclusion, we have developed an immunogen and a small antibody that may have great potential for development of novel anti-HIV/AIDS vaccines and treatments.
HIV-1 entry into host cells is mediated by the sequential binding of the envelope glycoprotein gp120 to CD4 and a chemokine receptor. Antibodies binding to epitopes overlapping the CD4-binding site on gp120 are potent inhibitors of HIV entry, such as the llama heavy chain antibody fragment VHH D7, which has cross-clade neutralizing properties and competes with CD4 and mAb b12 for high affinity binding to gp120. We report the crystal structure of the D7 VHH at 1.5 Å resolution, which reveals the molecular details of the complementarity determining regions (CDR) and substantial flexibility of CDR3 that could facilitate an induced fit interaction with gp120. Structural comparison of CDRs from other CD4 binding site antibodies suggests diverse modes of interaction. Mutational analysis identified CDR3 as a key component of gp120 interaction as determined by surface plasmon resonance. A decrease in affinity is directly coupled to the neutralization efficiency since mutations that decrease gp120 interaction increase the IC50 required for HIV-1 IIIB neutralization. Thus the structural study identifies the long CDR3 of D7 as the key determinant of interaction and HIV-1 neutralization. Furthermore, our data confirm that the structural plasticity of gp120 can accommodate multiple modes of antibody binding within the CD4 binding site.