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Integrating Intact Mass Analysis and Middle-Down Mass Spectrometry Approaches to Effectively Characterize Trastuzumab and Adalimumab Structural Heterogeneity

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journal contribution
posted on 29.10.2020, 16:22 by Wenwen Zhu, Menglin Li, Jinlan Zhang
Comprehensive characterization of therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) structures is critical for drug development but remains challenging due to the inherent structural heterogeneity. In this study, an integrated strategy has been developed to characterize trastuzumab structural heterogeneity, which has prominent advantages in fast sample preparation with minimal artifacts, and complementary information obtained from intact mass and middle-down analyses. Our methods were all developed on an electron transfer dissociation (ETD)-enabled Q-TOF instrument. As a result, more than 13 structurally different proteoforms were easily identified and quantified through native and denatured intact mass analysis, which may result from the collective differences in glycosylation and C-terminal lysine clipping. Based on collision-induced dissociation and ETD-combined middle-down analysis, sequence coverage values of 28, 45, and 41% for trastuzumab Fc/2, Lc, and Fd subunits, respectively, were reached in a single LC run. The main glycan structure and relative abundance level were determined, and the glycosylation site was confirmed to be on the Fc fragment Asn 61. We finally integrated the native MS and middle-down results to have a more realistic detection of molecular weight, sequence variants, and glycosylation variants of trastuzumab. Applying the integrated strategy, we successfully completed the comprehensive characterization of adalimumab and found unexpected C-terminal lysine-modified variants (dataset identifier PXD021287). Overall, our integration strategy can be easily implemented for in-depth mAb structural heterogeneity characterization during pharmaceutical development and quality control.