Isolation of the new antigen receptor from wobbegong sharks, and use as a scaffold for the display of protein loop libraries

S D Nuttall, U V Krishnan, M Hattarki, R De Gori, R A Irving, P J Hudson
Molecular Immunology 2001, 38 (4): 313-26
The new antigen receptor (NAR) from nurse sharks consists of an immunoglobulin variable domain attached to five constant domains, and is hypothesised to function as an antigen-binding antibody-like molecule. To determine whether the NAR is present in other species we have isolated a number of new antigen receptor variable domains from the spotted wobbegong shark (Orectolobus maculatus) and compared their structure to that of the nurse shark protein. To determine whether these wNARs can function as antigen-binding proteins, we have used them as scaffolds for the construction of protein libraries in which the CDR3 loop was randomised, and displayed the resulting recombinant domains on the surface of fd bacteriophages. On selection against several protein antigens, the highest affinity wNAR proteins were generated against the Gingipain K protease from Porphyromonas gingivalis. One wNAR protein bound Gingipain K specifically by ELISA and BIAcore analysis and, when expressed in E. coli and purified by affinity chromatography, eluted from an FPLC column as a single peak consistent with folding into a monomeric protein. Naturally occurring nurse shark and wobbegong NAR variable domains exhibit conserved cysteine residues within the CDR1 and CDR3 loops which potentially form disulphide linkages and enhance protein stability; proteins isolated from the in vitro NAR wobbegong library showed similar selection for such paired cysteine residues. Thus, the New Antigen Receptor represents a protein scaffold with possible stability advantages over conventional antibodies when used in in vitro molecular libraries.

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