The ability of antibodies to bind an antigen with a high degree of affinity and specificity has led them to become the largest and fastest growing class of therapeutic proteins. Clearly identifying the epitope at which they bind their cognate antigen provides insight into their mechanism of action and helps differentiate antibodies that bind the same antigen. Here we describe a method to precisely and efficiently map the epitopes of a panel of antibodies in parallel over the course of several weeks. This method relies on the combination of rational library design, quantitative yeast surface display and next generation DNA sequencing and was demonstrated by mapping the epitopes of several antibodies which neutralize alpha toxin from Staphylococcus aureus. The accuracy of this method was confirmed by comparing the results to the co-crystal structure of one antibody and alpha toxin and was further refined by the inclusion of a lower affinity variant of the antibody. In addition, this method produced quantitative insight into the epitope residues most critical for the antibody-antigen interaction and enabled the relative affinities of each antibody toward alpha toxin variants to be estimated. This affinity estimate serves as a predictor of neutralizing antibody potency and was used to anticipate the ability of each antibody to effectively bind and neutralize naturally occurring alpha toxin variants secreted by strains of S. aureus, including clinically relevant strains. Ultimately this type information can be used to help select the best clinical candidate among a set of antibodies against a given antigen.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) is indispensable during normal embryonic development and critical for the amplification of pain signals in adults. Intervention in NGF signaling holds promise for the alleviation of pain resulting from human diseases such as osteoarthritis, cancer and chronic lower back disorders. We developed a fast, high-fidelity method to convert a hybridoma-derived NGF-targeted mouse antibody into a clinical candidate. This method, termed Library Scanning Mutagenesis (LSM), resulted in the ultra-high affinity antibody tanezumab, a first-in-class anti-hyperalgesic specific for an NGF epitope. Functional and structural comparisons between tanezumab and the mouse 911 precursor antibody using neurotrophin-specific cell survival assays and X-ray crystal structures of both Fab-antigen complexes illustrated high fidelity retention of the NGF epitope. These results suggest the potential for wide applicability of the LSM method for optimization of well-characterized antibodies during humanization.
Here, we demonstrate how array-based label-free biosensors can be applied to the multiplexed interaction analysis of large panels of analyte/ligand pairs, such as the epitope binning of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). In this application, the larger the number of mAbs that are analyzed for cross-blocking in a pairwise and combinatorial manner against their specific antigen, the higher the probability of discriminating their epitopes. Since cross-blocking of two mAbs is necessary but not sufficient for them to bind an identical epitope, high-resolution epitope binning analysis determined by high-throughput experiments can enable the identification of mAbs with similar but unique epitopes. We demonstrate that a mAb's epitope and functional activity are correlated, thereby strengthening the relevance of epitope binning data to the discovery of therapeutic mAbs. We evaluated two state-of-the-art label-free biosensors that enable the parallel analysis of 96 unique analyte/ligand interactions and nearly ten thousand total interactions per unattended run. The IBIS-MX96 is a microarray-based surface plasmon resonance imager (SPRi) integrated with continuous flow microspotting technology whereas the Octet-HTX is equipped with disposable fiber optic sensors that use biolayer interferometry (BLI) detection. We compared their throughput, versatility, ease of sample preparation, and sample consumption in the context of epitope binning assays. We conclude that the main advantages of the SPRi technology are its exceptionally low sample consumption, facile sample preparation, and unparalleled unattended throughput. In contrast, the BLI technology is highly flexible because it allows for the simultaneous interaction analysis of 96 independent analyte/ligand pairs, ad hoc sensor replacement and on-line reloading of an analyte- or ligand-array. Thus, the complementary use of these two platforms can expedite applications that are relevant to the discovery of therapeutic mAbs, depending upon the sample availability, and the number and diversity of the interactions being studied.
The emergence and spread of multi-drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus in hospitals and in the community emphasize the urgency for the development of novel therapeutic interventions. Our approach was to evaluate the potential of harnessing the human immune system to guide the development of novel therapeutics. We explored the role of preexisting antibodies against S. aureus ?-hemolysin in the serum of human individuals by isolating and characterizing one antibody with a remarkably high affinity to ?-hemolysin. The antibody provided protection in S. aureus pneumonia, skin, and bacteremia mouse models of infection and also showed therapeutic efficacy when dosed up to 18 h post-infection in the pneumonia model. Additionally, in pneumonia and bacteremia animal models, the therapeutic efficacy of the ?-hemolysin antibody appeared additive to the antibiotic linezolid. To better understand the mechanism of action of this isolated antibody, we solved the crystal structure of the ?-hemolysin:antibody complex. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the crystal structure of the ?-hemolysin monomer. The structure of the complex shows that the antibody binds ?-hemolysin between the cap and the rim domains. In combination with biochemical data, the structure suggests that the antibody neutralizes the activity of the toxin by preventing binding to the plasma membrane of susceptible host cells. The data presented here suggest that protective antibodies directed against S. aureus molecules exist in some individuals and that such antibodies have a therapeutic potential either alone or in combination with antibiotics.
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