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Evaluation of a non-canonical Cys40-Cys55 disulfide linkage for stabilization of single-domain antibodies

Kim, DY;Kandalaft, H;Hussack, G;Raphael, S;Ding, W;Kelly, JF;Henry, KA;Tanha, J;

Incorporation of non-canonical disulfide linkages into single-domain antibodies (sdAbs) has been shown to enhance thermostability and other properties. Here, we evaluated the effects of introducing a novel disulfide linkage formed between Cys residues at IMGT positions 40 and 55 on the melting temperatures (Tm s), reversibility of thermal unfolding, solubility and antigen-binding affinities of three types of sdAbs (VH H, VH and VL domains). The Cys40-Cys55 disulfide linkage was tolerated by 9/9 VH Hs, 12/12 VH s and 2/11 VL s tested and its formation was confirmed by mass spectrometry. Using circular dichroism, we found that the Cys40-Cys55 disulfide linkage increased sdAb Tm by an average of 10.0C (range: 0-21.8C). However, enhanced thermostability came at the cost of a partial loss of refolding ability upon thermal denaturation as well as, for some sdAbs, significantly decreased solubility and antigen-binding affinity. Thus, Cys40/Cys55 can be added to the panel of known locations for introducing stabilizing non-canonical disulfide linkages into antibody variable domains, although its effects should be tested empirically for individual sdAbs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. 2019 The Protein Society.