Quantitation of individual mAbs within a combined antibody drug product is required for preclinical and clinical drug development including pharmacokinetics (PK), toxicology, stability and biochemical characterization studies of such drugs. We have developed an antitoxin (XOMA 3AB) consisting of three recombinant monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that potently neutralizes the known subtypes of type A botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT/A). The three mAbs bind non-overlapping BoNT/A epitopes with high affinity. XOMA3AB is being developed as a treatment for botulism resulting from BoNT/A. To develop antibody-specific assays, we cloned, expressed, and purified BoNT/A domains from E. coli. Each mAb bound only to its specific domain with affinity comparable to the binding to holotoxin. MAb specific domains were used to develop an ELISA for characterization of the integrity and binding activity of the three mAbs in the drug product. An electrochemiluminescence bridging assay was also developed that is robust to interference from components in serum and we demonstrate that it can be used for PK assays. This type of antigen engineering to generate mAb-specific domains is a general method allowing quantitation and characterization of individual mAbs in a mAb cocktail that bind the same protein and is superior to anti-idiotype approaches.
botulinum neurotoxin; botulism; oligoclonal antibodies; protein domain; protein characterization; protein purification
Quantitation of individual mAbs within a combined antibody drug product is required for preclinical and clinical drug development. We have developed two antitoxins (XOMA 3B and XOMA 3E) each consisting of three monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that neutralize type B and type E botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT/B and BoNT/E) to treat serotype B and E botulism. To develop mAb-specific binding assays for each antitoxin, we mapped the epitopes of the six mAbs. Each mAb bound an epitope on either the BoNT light chain (LC) or translocation domain (HN). Epitope mapping data was used to design LC-HN domains with orthogonal mutations to make them specific for only one mAb in either XOMA 3B or 3E. Mutant LC-HN domains were cloned, expressed, and purified from E. coli. Each mAb bound only to its specific domain with affinity comparable to the binding to holotoxin. Further engineering of domains allowed construction of ELISAs that could characterize the integrity, binding affinity, and identity of each of the six mAbs in XOMA 3B, and 3E without interference from the three BoNT/A mAbs in XOMA 3AB. Such antigen engineering is a general method allowing quantitation and characterization of individual mAbs in a mAb cocktail that bind the same protein.
botulinum neurotoxin; botulism; oligoclonal antibodies; protein domain; protein characterization; protein purification
Botulism, a disease of humans characterized by prolonged paralysis, is caused by botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), the most poisonous substances known. There are seven serotypes of BoNT (A–G) which differ from each other by 34–64% at the amino acid level. Each serotype is uniquely recognized by polyclonal antibodies, which originally were used to classify serotypes. To determine if there existed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) capable of binding two or more serotypes, we evaluated the ability of 35 yeast-displayed single-chain variable fragment antibodies generated from vaccinated humans or mice for their ability to bind multiple BoNT serotypes. Two such clonally related human mAbs (1B18 and 4E17) were identified that bound BoNT serotype A (BoNT/A) and B or BoNT/A, B, E and F, respectively, with high affinity. Using molecular evolution techniques, it proved possible to both increase affinity and maintain cross-serotype reactivity for the 4E17 mAb. Both 1B18 and 4E17 bound to a relatively conserved epitope at the tip of the BoNT translocation domain. Immunoglobulin G constructed from affinity matured variants of 1B18 and 4E17 were evaluated for their ability to neutralize BoNT/B and E, respectively, in vivo. Both antibodies potently neutralized BoNT in vivo demonstrating that this epitope is functionally important in the intoxication pathway. Such cross-serotype binding and neutralizing mAbs should simplify the development of antibody-based BoNT diagnostics and therapeutics.
botulism; botulinum neurotoxin; molecular evolution; single-chain Fv; yeast display
Botulism is caused by the botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), the most poisonous substance known. Because of the high potency of BoNT, development of diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies for botulism requires antibodies of very high affinity. Here we report the use of yeast mating to affinity mature BoNT antibodies by light chain shuffling. A library of immunoglobulin light chains was generated in a yeast vector where the light chain is secreted. The heavy chain variable region and the first domain of the constant region (VH–CH1) from a monoclonal antibody was cloned into a different yeast vector for surface display as a fusion to the Aga2 protein. Through yeast mating of the two haploid yeasts, a library of light chain-shuffled Fab was created. Using this approach, the affinities of one BoNT/A and two BoNT/B scFv antibody fragments were increased from 9- to more than 77-fold. Subcloning the V-genes from the affinity-matured Fab yielded fully human IgG1 with equilibrium binding constants for BoNT/A and BoNT/B of 2.51 × 10−11 M or lower for all three monoclonal antibodies. This technique provides a rapid route to antibody affinity maturation.
antibody engineering; botulinum neurotoxin; FACS; molecular evolution; yeast mating
Inappropriate signalling through the EGFR and ErbB2/HER2 members of the epidermal growth factor family of receptor tyrosine kinases is well recognised as being causally linked to a variety of cancers. Consequently, monoclonal antibodies specific for these receptors have become increasingly important components of effective treatment strategies for cancer. Increasing evidence suggests that ErbB3 plays a critical role in cancer progression and resistance to therapy. We hypothesised that co-targeting the preferred ErbB2/ErbB3 heterodimer with a bispecific single-chain Fv (bs-scFv) antibody would promote increased targeting selectivity over antibodies specific for a single tumour-associated antigen (TAA). In addition, we hypothesised that targeting this important heterodimer could induce a therapeutic effect. Here, we describe the construction and evaluation of the A5-linker-ML3.9 bs-scFv (ALM), an anti-ErbB3/ErbB2 bs-scFv. The A5-linker-ML3.9 bs-scFv exhibits selective targeting of tumour cells in vitro and in vivo that co-express the two target antigens over tumour cells that express only one target antigen or normal cells that express low levels of both antigens. The A5-linker-ML3.9 bs-scFv also exhibits significantly greater in vivo targeting of ErbB2‘+'/ErbB3‘+' tumours than derivative molecules that contain only one functional arm targeting ErbB2 or ErbB3. Binding of ALM to ErbB2‘+'/ErbB3‘+' cells mediates inhibition of tumour cell growth in vitro by effectively targeting the therapeutic anti-ErbB3 A5 scFv. This suggests both that ALM could provide the basis for an effective therapeutic agent and that engineered antibodies selected to co-target critical functional pairs of TAAs can enhance the targeting specificity and efficacy of antibody-based cancer therapeutics.
engineered antibody; bispecific; ErbB
Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), the most poisonous substance known, causes naturally occurring human disease (botulism) and is one of the top six biothreat agents. Botulism is treated with polyclonal antibodies produced in horses which are associated with a high incidence of systemic reactions. Human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are under development as a safer therapy. Identifying neutralizing epitopes on BoNTs is an important step in generating neutralizing mAbs, and also has implications for vaccine development. Here we show that the three domains of BoNT serotype A (BoNT/A) can be displayed on the surface of yeast and used to epitope map six mAbs to the toxin domains they bind. The use of yeast obviates the need to express and purify each domain, and it should prove possible to display domains of other BoNT subtypes and serotypes for epitope mapping. Using a library of yeast displayed BoNT/A binding domain (HC) mutants and selecting for loss of binding, the fine epitopes of three neutralizing BoNT/A mAbs were identified. Two mAbs bind the C-terminal subdomain of HC, with one binding near the toxin sialoganglioside binding site. The most potently neutralizing mAb binds the N-terminal subdomain of HC, in an area not previously thought to be functionally important. Modeling the epitopes shows how all three mAbs could bind BoNT/A simultaneously and may partially explain the dramatic synergy observed on in vivo toxin neutralization when these antibodies are combined. The results demonstrate how yeast display can be used for domain-level and fine mapping of conformational BoNT antibody epitopes and the mapping results identify three neutralizing BoNT/A epitopes.
epitope mapping; yeast surface display; botulinum neurotoxin; affinity; alanine scanning mutagenesis
Clostridium botulinum is a taxonomic designation for many diverse anaerobic spore-forming rod-shaped bacteria that have the common property of producing botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs). The BoNTs are exoneurotoxins that can cause severe paralysis and death in humans and other animal species. A collection of 174 C. botulinum strains was examined by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis and by sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and BoNT genes to examine the genetic diversity within this species. This collection contained representatives of each of the seven different serotypes of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT/A to BoNT/G). Analysis of the16S rRNA gene sequences confirmed previous identifications of at least four distinct genomic backgrounds (groups I to IV), each of which has independently acquired one or more BoNT genes through horizontal gene transfer. AFLP analysis provided higher resolution and could be used to further subdivide the four groups into subgroups. Sequencing of the BoNT genes from multiple strains of serotypes A, B, and E confirmed significant sequence variation within each serotype. Four distinct lineages within each of the BoNT A and B serotypes and five distinct lineages of serotype E strains were identified. The nucleotide sequences of the seven toxin genes of the serotypes were compared and showed various degrees of interrelatedness and recombination, as was previously noted for the nontoxic nonhemagglutinin gene, which is linked to the BoNT gene. These analyses contribute to the understanding of the evolution and phylogeny within this species and assist in the development of improved diagnostics and therapeutics for the treatment of botulism.
Single-chain antibodies neutralize activity and bind nonoverlapping epitopes of botulinum A neurotoxin. Two phage display epitope libraries were constructed from the 1.3 kb of binding domain cDNA. The minimal epitopes selected against the single-chain Fv-Fc antibodies correspond to conformational epitopes with amino acid residues 1115 to 1223 (S25), 1131 to 1264 (3D12), and 889 to 1294 (C25).
The botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are category A biothreat agents which have been the focus of intensive efforts to develop vaccines and antibody-based prophylaxis and treatment. Such approaches must take into account the extensive BoNT sequence variability; the seven BoNT serotypes differ by up to 70% at the amino acid level. Here, we have analyzed 49 complete published sequences of BoNTs and show that all toxins also exhibit variability within serotypes ranging between 2.6 and 31.6%. To determine the impact of such sequence differences on immune recognition, we studied the binding and neutralization capacity of six BoNT serotype A (BoNT/A) monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A2, which differ by 10% at the amino acid level. While all six MAbs bound BoNT/A1 with high affinity, three of the six MAbs showed a marked reduction in binding affinity of 500- to more than 1,000-fold to BoNT/A2 toxin. Binding results predicted in vivo toxin neutralization; MAbs or MAb combinations that potently neutralized A1 toxin but did not bind A2 toxin had minimal neutralizing capacity for A2 toxin. This was most striking for a combination of three binding domain MAbs which together neutralized >40,000 mouse 50% lethal doses (LD50s) of A1 toxin but less than 500 LD50s of A2 toxin. Combining three MAbs which bound both A1 and A2 toxins potently neutralized both toxins. We conclude that sequence variability exists within all toxin serotypes, and this impacts monoclonal antibody binding and neutralization. Such subtype sequence variability must be accounted for when generating and evaluating diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies.
To produce antibodies capable of neutralizing botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A), the murine humoral immune response to BoNT/A binding domain (H(C)) was characterized at the molecular level by using phage antibody libraries. Mice were immunized with BoNT/A H(C), the spleens were harvested, and single-chain Fv (scFv) phage antibody libraries were constructed from the immunoglobulin heavy and light chain variable region genes. Phage expressing BoNT/A binding scFv were isolated by selection on immobilized BoNT/A and BoNT/A H(C). Twenty-eight unique BoNT/A H(C) binding scFv were identified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and DNA sequencing. Epitope mapping using surface plasmon resonance in a BIAcore revealed that the 28 scFv bound to only 4 nonoverlapping epitopes with equilibrium constants (Kd) ranging from 7.3 x 10(-8) to 1.1 x 10(-9) M. In a mouse hemidiaphragm assay, scFv binding epitopes 1 and 2 significantly prolonged the time to neuroparalysis, 1.5- and 2.7-fold, respectively, compared to toxin control. scFv binding to epitopes 3 and 4 showed no protection against neuroparalysis. A combination of scFv binding epitopes 1 and 2 had an additive effect on time to neuroparalysis, which increased to 3.9-fold compared to the control. The results suggest that there are two "productive" receptor binding sites on H(C) which lead to toxin internalization and toxicity. Blockade of these two epitopes with monoclonal antibodies may provide effective immunoprophylaxis or therapy against BoNT/A intoxication.
The domain organization of the botulinum neurotoxin serotype A was studied by using antibody mapping of 44 monoclonal single-chain variable fragments. The analysis was carried out on (i) the individual domains of botulinum neurotoxin holotoxin (binding, translocation, and catalytic), (ii) botulinum neurotoxin holotoxin, (iii) the botulinum neurotoxin holotoxin in complex with the nontoxic portion, and (iv) botulinum neurotoxin holotoxin and nontoxic portion of the complex recombined in vitro. All 44 antibodies mapped to individual domains of botulinum neurotoxin. Forty of the 44 single-chain variable fragments bound the botulinum neurotoxin holotoxin relative to the isolated domains, suggesting that 4 epitopes are covered when the individual domains are in the holotoxin form. Only 20 of the antibodies showed a positive reaction to the toxin while in complex with the nontoxic portion. All of the covered epitopes were mapped to the binding domain of botulinum neurotoxin, which suggested that the binding domain is in direct contact with the nontoxic portion in the complex. Based on the antibody mapping to the different domains of the botulinum neurotoxin holotoxin and the entire complex, a model of the botulinum neurotoxin complex is proposed.
Single-chain Fv (scFv) molecules exhibit highly specific tumour-targeting properties in tumour-bearing mice. However, because of their smaller size and monovalent binding, the quantities of radiolabelled scFv retained in tumours limit their therapeutic applications. Diabodies are dimeric antibody-based molecules composed of two non-covalently associated scFv that bind to antigen in a divalent manner. In vitro, diabodies produced from the anti-HER2/neu (c-erbB-2) scFv C6.5 displayed approximately 40-fold greater affinity for HER2/neu by surface plasmon resonance biosensor measurements and significantly prolonged association with antigen on the surface of SK-OV-3 cells (t1/2 cell surface retention of > 5 h vs 5 min) compared with C6.5 scFv. In SK-OV-3 tumour-bearing scid mice, radioiodinated C6.5 diabody displayed a highly favourable balance of quantitative tumour retention and specificity. By as early as 4 h after i.v. administration, significantly more diabody was retained in tumour (10 %ID g(-1)) than in blood (6.7 %ID ml(-1)) or normal tissue (liver, 2.8 %ID g(-1); lung, 7.1 %ID g(-1); kidney, 5.2 %ID g(-1)). Over the next 20 h, the quantity present in blood and most tissues dropped approximately tenfold, while the tumour retained 6.5 %ID g(-1) or about two-thirds of its 4-h value. In contrast, the 24-h tumour retention of radioiodinated C6.5 scFv monomer was only 1 %ID g(-1). When diabody retentions were examined over the course of a 72-h study and cumulative area under the curve (AUC) values were determined, the resulting tumor-organ AUC ratios were found to be superior to those previously reported for other monovalent or divalent scFv molecules. In conclusion, the diabody format provides the C6.5 molecule with a distinct in vitro and in vivo targeting advantage and has promise as a delivery vehicle for therapeutic agents.
To date, there has been no systematic study of the process of affinity maturation of human antibodies. We therefore sequenced the variable region genes (V genes) of 14 human monoclonal antibodies specific for the erythrocyte Rh(D) alloantigen and determined the germline gene segments of origin and extent of somatic hypermutation. These data were correlated with determinations of antibody affinity. The four IgM antibodies (low affinity) appear to be derived from two germline heavy chain variable region gene segments and one or two germline light chain variable region gene segments and were not extensively mutated. The 10 IgG antibodies (higher affinity) appear to be derived from somatic hypermutation of these V gene segments and by use of new V gene segments or V gene segment combinations (repertoire shift). Affinity generally increased with increasing somatic hypermutation; on average, there were 8.9 point mutations in the V gene segments of the four IgM antibodies (Ka = 1-4 x 10(7)/M-1) compared with 19 point mutations in the V gene segments of the 10 IgG antibodies. The four highest affinity antibodies (Ka = 0.9-3 x 10(9)/M-1) averaged 25.5 point mutations. The use of repertoire shift and somatic hypermutation in affinity maturation of human alloantibodies is similar to data obtained in inbred mice immunized with haptens.
In this prospective study of 45 patients, we tested the hypothesis that markedly elevated levels of plasma von Willebrand antigen (vWf-Ag) a marker of endothelial cell injury, might predict the development of acute lung injury in patients with nonpulmonary sepsis syndrome. Acute lung injury was quantified on a four-point scoring system. At the time of entry into the study, none of the 45 patients had evidence of lung injury. Subsequently, 15 patients developed lung injury and 30 patients did not develop lung injury. The mean plasma vWf-Ag level was markedly elevated in the 15 patients who developed lung injury compared with the 30 patients who did not develop lung injury (588 +/- 204 vs. 338 +/- 196, percentage of control, P less than 0.01). Furthermore, a plasma vWf-Ag level greater than or equal to 450 was 87% sensitive and 77% specific for predicting the development of acute lung injury in the setting of nonpulmonary sepsis. In addition, the combination of a plasma vWf-Ag greater than 450 and nonpulmonary organ failure at the time of entry into the study had a positive predictive value of 80% for acute lung injury. Also, a plasma vWf-Ag level greater than 450 had a positive predictive value of 80% for identifying nonsurvivors. Thus, in patients with nonpulmonary sepsis, an elevated level of plasma vWf-Ag is a useful, early biochemical marker of endothelial injury and it has both predictive and prognostic value.