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Streptabody, a high avidity molecule made by tetramerization of in vivo biotinylated, phage display-selected scFv fragments on streptavidin.
Phage display is a powerful method of isolating of antibody fragments from highly diverse naive human antibody repertoires. However, the affinity of the selected antibodies is usually low and current methods of affinity maturation are complex and time-consuming. In this paper, we describe an easy way to increase the functional affinity (avidity) of single chain variable fragments (scFvs) by tetramerization on streptavidin, following their site-specific biotinylation by the enzyme BirA. Expression vectors have been constructed that enable addition of the 15 amino acid biotin acceptor domain (BAD) on selected scFvs. Different domains were cloned at the C-terminus of scFv in the following order: a semi-rigid hinge region (of 16 residues), the BAD, and a histidine tail. Two such recombinant scFvs directed against the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) were previously selected from human non-immune and murine immune phage display libraries. The scFvs were first synthesized in Escherichia coli carrying the plasmid encoding the BirA enzyme, and then purified from the cytoplasmic extracts by Ni-NTA affinity chromatography. Purified biotinylated scFvs were tetramerized on the streptavidin molecule to create a streptabody (StAb). The avidity of various forms of anti-CEA StAbs, tested on purified CEA by competitive assays and surface plasmon resonance showed an increase of more than one log, as compared with the scFv monomer counterparts. Furthermore, the percentage of direct binding of 125I-labeled StAb or monomeric scFv on CEA-Sepharose beads and on CEA-expressing cells showed a dramatic increase for the tetramerized scFv (>80%), as compared with the monomeric scFv (<20%). Interestingly, the percentage binding of 125I-labeled anti-CEA StAbs to CEA-expressing colon carcinoma cells was definitely higher (>80%) than that obtained with a reference high affinity murine anti-CEA mAb (30%). Another advantage of using scFvs in a StAb format was demonstrated by Western blot analysis, where tetramerized anti-CEA scFv could detect a small quantity of CEA at a concentration 100-fold lower than the monomeric scFv.
Amino Acid Sequence, Antibody Specificity, Biotin, Dimerization, Gene Library, Humans, Immunoglobulin Variable Region/chemistry, Immunoglobulin Variable Region/genetics, Molecular Sequence Data, Streptavidin
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