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General and Robust Chemoenzymatic Method for Glycan-Mediated Site-Specific Labeling and Conjugation of Antibodies: Facile Synthesis of Homogeneous Antibody–Drug Conjugates

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journal contribution
posted on 27.09.2021, 15:05 by Xiao Zhang, Chong Ou, Huiying Liu, Sunaina Kiran Prabhu, Chao Li, Qiang Yang, Lai-Xi Wang
Site-specific labeling and conjugation of antibodies are highly desirable for fundamental research and for developing more efficient diagnostic and therapeutic methods. We report here a general and robust chemoenzymatic method that permits a one-pot site-specific functionalization of antibodies. A series of selectively modified disaccharide oxazoline derivatives were designed, synthesized, and evaluated as donor substrates of different endoglycosidases for antibody Fc glycan remodeling. We found that among several endoglycosidases tested, wild-type endoglycosidase from Streptococcus pyogenes of serotype M49 (Endo-S2) exhibited remarkable activity in transferring the functionalized disaccharides carrying site-selectively modified azide, biotin, or fluorescent tags to antibodies without hydrolyzing the resulting transglycosylation products. This discovery, together with the excellent Fc deglycosylation activity of Endo-S2 on recombinant antibodies, allowed direct labeling and functionalization of antibodies in a one-pot manner without the need of intermediate and enzyme separation. The site-specific introduction of varied numbers of azide groups enabled a highly efficient synthesis of homogeneous antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) with a precise control of the drug-to-antibody ratio (DAR) ranging from 2 to 12 via a copper-free strain-promoted click reaction. Cell viability assays showed that ADCs with higher DARs were more potent in killing antigen-overexpressed cells than the ADCs with lower DARs. This new method is expected to find applications not only for antibody–drug conjugation but also for cell labeling, imaging, and diagnosis.