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Structural and Functional Characterization of a Hole–Hole Homodimer Variant in a “Knob-Into-Hole” Bispecific Antibody

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journal contribution
posted on 12.11.2017, 00:00 by Hui-Min Zhang, Charlene Li, Ming Lei, Victor Lundin, Ho Young Lee, Milady Ninonuevo, Kevin Lin, Guanghui Han, Wendy Sandoval, Dongsheng Lei, Gang Ren, Jennifer Zhang, Hongbin Liu
Bispecific antibodies have great potential to be the next-generation biotherapeutics due to their ability to simultaneously recognize two different targets. Compared to conventional monoclonal antibodies, knob-into-hole bispecific antibodies face unique challenges in production and characterization due to the increase in variant possibilities, such as homodimerization in covalent and noncovalent forms. In this study, a storage- and pH-sensitive hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC) profile change was observed for the hole–hole homodimer, and the multiple HIC peaks were explored and shown to be conformational isomers. We combined traditional analytical methods with hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX MS), native mass spectrometry, and negative-staining electron microscopy to comprehensively characterize the hole–hole homodimer. HDX MS revealed conformational changes at the resolution of a few amino acids overlapping the CH2-CH3 domain interface. Conformational heterogeneity was also assessed by HDX MS isotopic distribution. The hole–hole homodimer was demonstrated to adopt a more homogeneous conformational distribution during storage. This conformational change is likely caused by a lack of CH3 domain dimerization (due to the three “hole” point mutations), resulting in a unique storage- and pH-dependent conformational destabilization and refolding of the hole–hole homodimer Fc. Compared with the hole–hole homodimer under different storage conditions, the bispecific heterodimer, guided by the knob-into-hole assembly, proved to be a stable conformation with homogeneous distribution, confirming its high quality as a desired therapeutic. Functional studies by antigen binding and neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) binding correlated very well with the structural characterization. Comprehensive interpretation of the results has provided a better understanding of both the homodimer variant and the bispecific molecule.