Publications by authors named "A Skerra"

223 Publications

Molecular recognition of structurally disordered Pro/Ala-rich sequences (PAS) by antibodies involves an Ala residue at the hot spot of the epitope.

J Mol Biol 2021 Jun 20;433(18):167113. Epub 2021 Jun 20.

Lehrstuhl für Biologische Chemie, Technische Universität München, Emil-Erlenmeyer-Forum 5, 85354 Freising, Germany; XL-protein GmbH, Lise-Meitner-Strasse 30, 85354 Freising, Germany. Electronic address:

Pro/Ala-rich sequences (PAS) are polypeptides that were developed as a biological alternative to poly-ethylene glycol (PEG) to generate biopharmaceuticals with extended plasma half-life. Like PEG, PAS polypeptides are conformationally disordered and show high solubility in water. Devoid of any charged or prominent hydrophobic side chains, these biosynthetic polymers represent an extreme case of intrinsically disordered proteins. Despite lack of immunogenicity of PAS tags in numerous animal studies we now succeeded in generating monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against three different PAS versions. To this end, mice were immunized with a PAS#1, P/A#1 or APSA 40mer peptide conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin as highly immunogenic carrier protein. In each case, one MAb with high binding activity and specificity towards a particular PAS motif was obtained. The apparent affinity was strongly dependent on the avidity effect and most pronounced for the bivalent MAb when interacting with a long PAS repeat. X-ray structural analysis of four representative anti-PAS Fab fragments in complex with their cognate PAS epitope peptides revealed interactions dominated by hydrogen bond networks involving the peptide backbone as well as multiple Van der Waals contacts arising from intimate shape complementarity. Surprisingly, Ala, the L-amino acid with the smallest side chain, emerged as a crucial feature for epitope recognition, contributing specific contacts at the center of the paratope in several anti-PAS complexes. Apart from these insights into how antibodies can recognize feature-less peptides without secondary structure, the MAbs characterized in this study offer valuable reagents for the preclinical and clinical development of PASylated biologics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmb.2021.167113DOI Listing
June 2021

Catalytic activity and stereoselectivity of engineered phosphotriesterases towards structurally different nerve agents in vitro.

Arch Toxicol 2021 Aug 23;95(8):2815-2823. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Institut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie der Bundeswehr, 80937, Munich, Germany.

Highly toxic organophosphorus nerve agents, especially the extremely stable and persistent V-type agents such as VX, still pose a threat to the human population and require effective medical countermeasures. Engineered mutants of the Brevundimonas diminuta phosphotriesterase (BdPTE) exhibit enhanced catalytic activities and have demonstrated detoxification in animal models, however, substrate specificity and fast plasma clearance limit their medical applicability. To allow better assessment of their substrate profiles, we have thoroughly investigated the catalytic efficacies of five BdPTE mutants with 17 different nerve agents using an AChE inhibition assay. In addition, we studied one BdPTE version that was fused with structurally disordered PAS polypeptides to enable delayed plasma clearance and one bispecific BdPTE with broadened substrate spectrum composed of two functionally distinct subunits connected by a PAS linker. Measured k/K values were as high as 6.5 and 1.5 × 10 M min with G- and V-agents, respectively. Furthermore, the stereoselective degradation of VX enantiomers by the PASylated BdPTE-4 and the bispecific BdPTE-7 were investigated by chiral LC-MS/MS, resulting in a several fold faster hydrolysis of the more toxic P(-) VX stereoisomer compared to P(+) VX. In conclusion, the newly developed enzymes BdPTE-4 and BdPTE-7 have shown high catalytic efficacy towards structurally different nerve agents and stereoselectivity towards the toxic P(-) VX enantiomer in vitro and offer promise for use as bioscavengers in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00204-021-03094-0DOI Listing
August 2021

Effective rational humanization of a PASylated anti-galectin-3 Fab for the sensitive PET imaging of thyroid cancer in vivo.

Sci Rep 2021 Apr 1;11(1):7358. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Lehrstuhl für Biologische Chemie, Technische Universität München, 85354, Freising (Weihenstephan), Germany.

The lack of a non-invasive test for malignant thyroid nodules makes the diagnosis of thyroid cancer (TC) challenging. Human galectin-3 (hGal3) has emerged as a promising target for medical TC imaging and diagnosis because of its exclusive overexpression in malignant thyroid tissues. We previously developed a human-chimeric αhGal3 Fab fragment derived from the rat monoclonal antibody (mAb) M3/38 with optimized clearance characteristics using PASylation technology. Here, we describe the elucidation of the hGal3 epitope recognized by mAb M3/38, X-ray crystallographic analysis of its complex with the chimeric Fab and, based on the three-dimensional structure, the rational humanization of the Fab by CDR grafting. Four CDR-grafted versions were designed using structurally most closely related fully human immunoglobulin V/V regions of which one-employing the acceptor framework regions of the HIV-1 neutralizing human antibody m66-showed the highest antigen affinity. By introducing two additional back-mutations to the rodent donor sequence, an affinity toward hGal3 indistinguishable from the chimeric Fab was achieved (K = 0.34 ± 0.02 nM in SPR). The PASylated humanized Fab was site-specifically labelled with the fluorescent dye Cy7 and applied for the immuno-histochemical staining of human tissue sections representative for different TCs. The same protein was conjugated with the metal chelator Dfo, followed by radiolabelling with Zr(IV). The resulting protein tracer allowed the highly sensitive and specific PET/CT imaging of orthotopic tumors in mice, which was confirmed by quantitative analysis of radiotracer accumulation. Thus, the PASylated humanized αhGal3 Fab offers clinical potential for the diagnostic imaging of TC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-86641-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8016950PMC
April 2021

The Role of Changing Loop Conformations in Streptavidin Versions Engineered for High-affinity Binding of the Strep-tag II Peptide.

J Mol Biol 2021 04 24;433(9):166893. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

Lehrstuhl für Biologische Chemie, Technische Universität München, 85354 Freising, Germany. Electronic address:

The affinity system based on the artificial peptide ligand Strep-tag® II and engineered tetrameric streptavidin, known as Strep-Tactin®, offers attractive applications for the study of recombinant proteins, from detection and purification to functional immobilization. To further improve binding of the Strep-tag II to streptavidin we have subjected two protruding loops that shape its ligand pocket for the peptide - instead of D-biotin recognized by the natural protein - to iterative random mutagenesis. Sequence analyses of hits from functional screening assays revealed several unexpected structural motifs, such as a disulfide bridge at the base of one loop, replacement of the crucial residue Trp120 by Gly and a two-residue deletion in the second loop. The mutant m1-9 (dubbed Strep-Tactin XT) showed strongly enhanced affinity towards the Strep-tag II, which was further boosted in case of the bivalent Twin-Strep-tag®. Four representative streptavidin mutants were crystallized in complex with the Strep-tag II peptide and their X-ray structures were solved at high resolutions. In addition, the crystal structure of the complex between Strep-Tactin XT and the Twin-Strep-tag was elucidated, indicating a bivalent mode of binding and explaining the experimentally observed avidity effect. Our study illustrates the structural plasticity of streptavidin as a scaffold for ligand binding and reveals interaction modes that would have been difficult to predict. As result, Strep-Tactin XT offers a convenient reagent for the kinetically stable immobilization of recombinant proteins fused with the Twin-Strep-tag. The possibility of reversibly dissociating such complexes simply with D-biotin as a competing ligand enables functional studies in protein science as well as cell biology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmb.2021.166893DOI Listing
April 2021

The IMiD target CRBN determines HSP90 activity toward transmembrane proteins essential in multiple myeloma.

Mol Cell 2021 03 10;81(6):1170-1186.e10. Epub 2021 Feb 10.

Department of Medicine III, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, 81675 Munich, Germany; TranslaTUM, Center for Translational Cancer Research, Technical University of Munich, 81675 Munich, Germany; German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120 Heidelberg, Germany. Electronic address:

The complex architecture of transmembrane proteins requires quality control (QC) of folding, membrane positioning, and trafficking as prerequisites for cellular homeostasis and intercellular communication. However, it has remained unclear whether transmembrane protein-specific QC hubs exist. Here we identify cereblon (CRBN), the target of immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), as a co-chaperone that specifically determines chaperone activity of HSP90 toward transmembrane proteins by means of counteracting AHA1. This function is abrogated by IMiDs, which disrupt the interaction of CRBN with HSP90. Among the multiple transmembrane protein clients of CRBN-AHA1-HSP90 revealed by cell surface proteomics, we identify the amino acid transporter LAT1/CD98hc as a determinant of IMiD activity in multiple myeloma (MM) and present an Anticalin-based CD98hc radiopharmaceutical for MM radio-theranostics. These data establish the CRBN-AHA1-HSP90 axis in the biogenesis of transmembrane proteins, link IMiD activity to tumor metabolism, and nominate CD98hc and LAT1 as attractive diagnostic and therapeutic targets in MM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2020.12.046DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7980223PMC
March 2021