Antigen binding and solubility effects upon veneering of a camel VHH in framework-2 to the mimic a VH
Conrath, K × Vincke, C Stijlemans, B Schymkowitz, Joost Decanniere, K Wyns, L Muyldermans, S Loris, R #
Journal of Molecular Biology vol:350 issue:1 pages:112-125
Heavy chain only antibodies of camelids bind their antigens with a single domain, the VHH, which acquired adaptations relative to classical VHs to function in the absence of a VL partner. Additional CDR loop conformations, outside the canonical loop structures of VHs, broaden the repertoire of the antigen-binding site. The combined effects of part of the CDR3 that folds over the "former" VL binding site and framework-2 mutations to more hydrophilic amino acids, enhance the solubility of VHH domains and prevent VL pairing. cAbAn33, a VHH domain specific for the carbohydrate moiety of the variant surface glycoprotein of trypanosomes, has a short CDR3 loop that does not cover the former VL binding site as well as a VH-specific Trp47 instead of the VHH-specific Gly47. Resurfacing its framework-2 region (mutations Tyr37Val, Glu44Gly and Arg45Leu) to mimic that of a human VH restores the VL binding capacity. In solution, the humanised VHH behaves as a soluble, monomeric entity, albeit with reduced thermodynamic stability and affinity for its antigen. Comparison of the crystal structures of cAbAn33 and its humanised derivative reveals steric hindrance exerted by VHH-specific residues Tyr37 and Arg45 that prevent the VL domain pairing, whereas Glu44 and Arg45 are key elements to avoid insolubility of the domain. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.