Contributions of the complementarity determining regions to the thermal stability of a single-domain antibody

Dan Zabetakis, George P Anderson, Nikhil Bayya, Ellen R Goldman
PloS One 2013, 8 (10): e77678
Single domain antibodies (sdAbs) are the recombinantly-expressed variable domain from camelid (or shark) heavy chain only antibodies and provide rugged recognition elements. Many sdAbs possess excellent affinity and specificity; most refold and are able to bind antigen after thermal denaturation. The sdAb A3, specific for the toxin Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), shows both sub-nanomolar affinity for its cognate antigen (0.14 nM) and an unusually high melting point of 85°C. Understanding the source of sdAb A3's high melting temperature could provide a route for engineering improved melting temperatures into other sdAbs. The goal of this work was to determine how much of sdAb A3's stability is derived from its complementarity determining regions (CDRs) versus its framework. Towards answering this question we constructed a series of CDR swap mutants in which the CDRs from unrelated sdAbs were integrated into A3's framework and where A3's CDRs were integrated into the framework of the other sdAbs. All three CDRs from A3 were moved to the frameworks of sdAb D1 (a ricin binder that melts at 50°C) and the anti-ricin sdAb C8 (melting point of 60°C). Similarly, the CDRs from sdAb D1 and sdAb C8 were moved to the sdAb A3 framework. In addition individual CDRs of sdAb A3 and sdAb D1 were swapped. Melting temperature and binding ability were assessed for each of the CDR-exchange mutants. This work showed that CDR2 plays a critical role in sdAb A3's binding and stability. Overall, results from the CDR swaps indicate CDR interactions play a major role in the protein stability.

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