Heat-induced irreversible denaturation of the camelid single domain VHH antibody is governed by chemical modifications

Yoko Akazawa-Ogawa, Mizuki Takashima, Young-Ho Lee, Takahisa Ikegami, Yuji Goto, Koichi Uegaki, Yoshihisa Hagihara
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2014 May 30, 289 (22): 15666-79
The variable domain of camelid heavy chain antibody (VHH) is highly heat-resistant and is therefore ideal for many applications. Although understanding the process of heat-induced irreversible denaturation is essential to improve the efficacy of VHH, its inactivation mechanism remains unclear. Here, we showed that chemical modifications predominantly governed the irreversible denaturation of VHH at high temperatures. After heat treatment, the activity of VHH was dependent only on the incubation time at 90 °C and was insensitive to the number of heating (90 °C)-cooling (20 °C) cycles, indicating a negligible role for folding/unfolding intermediates on permanent denaturation. The residual activity was independent of concentration; therefore, VHH lost its activity in a unimolecular manner, not by aggregation. A VHH mutant lacking Asn, which is susceptible to chemical modifications, had significantly higher heat resistance than did the wild-type protein, indicating the importance of chemical modifications to VHH denaturation.

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