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Strategies to stabilize compact folding and minimize aggregation of antibody-based fragments

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DOI: 10.4236/abb.2013.44A011    5,860 Downloads   9,320 Views   Citations


Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have proven to be useful for development of new therapeutic drugs and diagnostic techniques. To overcome the difficulties posed by their complex structure and folding, reduce undesired immunogenicity, and improve pharmacoki- netic properties, a plethora of different Ab fragments have been developed. These include recombinant Fab and Fv segments that can display improved properties over those of the original mAbs upon which they are based. Antibody (Ab) fragments such as Fabs, scFvs, diabodies, and nanobodies, all contain the variable Ig domains responsible for binding to specific antigenic epitopes, allowing for specific targeting of pathological cells and/or molecules. These fragments can be easier to produce, purify and refold than a full Ab, and due to their smaller size they can be well absorbed and distributed into target tissues. However, the physicochemical and structural properties of the immunoglobulin (Ig) domain, upon which the folding and conformation of all these Ab fragments is based, can limit the stability of Ab-based drugs. The Ig domain is fairly sensitive to unfolding and aggregation when produced out of the structural context of an intact Ab molecule. When unfolded, Ab fragments may lose their specificity as well as establish non-native interactions leading to protein aggregation. Aggregated antibody fragments display altered pharmacokinetic and immunogenic properties that can augment their toxicity. Therefore, much effort has been placed in understanding the factors impacting the stability of Ig folding at two different levels: 1) intrinsically, by studying the effects of the amino acid sequence on Ig folding; 2) extrinsically, by determining the environmental conditions that may influence the stability of Ig folding. In this review we will describe the structure of the Ig domain, and the factors that impact its stability, to set the context for the different approaches currently used to achieve stable recombinant Ig domains when pursuing the development of Ab fragment-based biotechnologies.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Gil, D. and Schrum, A. (2013) Strategies to stabilize compact folding and minimize aggregation of antibody-based fragments. Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 4, 73-84. doi: 10.4236/abb.2013.44A011.


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