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Journal of Biotechnology
Vol. 243, 2017, Pages: 29–37

Antibody engineering of a cytotoxic monoclonal antibody 84 against human embryonic stem cells: Investigating the effects of multivalency on cytotoxicity

Maximilian Klement, Jiyun Zheng, Chengcheng Liu, Heng-Liang Tan, Victor Vai Tak Wong, Andre Boon-Hwa Choo, Dong-Yup Lee, Dave Siak-Wei Ow

Bioprocessing Technology Institute, A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), 20 Biopolis Way, #06-01 Centros, 138668, Singapore.


Antibody fragments have shown targeted specificity to their antigens, but only modest tissue retention times in vivo and in vitro. Multimerization has been used as a protein engineering tool to increase the number of binding units and thereby enhance the efficacy and retention time of antibody fragments. In this work, we explored the effects of valency using a series of self-assembling polypeptides based on the GCN4 leucine zipper multimerization domain fused to a single-chain variable fragment via an antibody upper hinge sequence. Four engineered antibody fragments with a valency from one to four antigen-binding units of a cytotoxic monoclonal antibody 84 against human embryonic stem cells (hESC) were constructed. We hypothesized that higher cytotoxicity would be observed for fragments with increased valency. Flow cytometry analysis revealed that the trimeric and tetrameric engineered antibody fragments resulted in the highest degree of cytotoxicity to the undifferentiated hESC, while the engineered antibody fragments were observed to have improved tissue penetration into cell clusters. Thus, a trade off was made for the trimeric versus tetrameric fragment due to improved tissue penetration. These results have direct implications for antibody-mediated removal of undifferentiated hESC during regenerative medicine and cell therapy.

Keywords: Antibody fragments; Avidity; hESC therapy; Multimerization; scFv; Self-assembling polypeptides.

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