Antigen-specific proteolytic antibodies

Gopal Sapparapu, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The antigen recognition site of antibodies is composed of residues contributed by the variable domains of the heavy and light chain subunits (VL and VH domains). VL domains can catalyze peptide bond hydrolysis independent of VH domains (Mei S et al. J Biol Chem. 1991 Aug 25;266(24):15571-4). VH domains can bind antigens noncovalently independent of V L domains (Ward et al. Nature. 1989 Oct 12;341(6242):544-6). This dissertation describe the specific hydrolysis of fusion proteins containing the hepatitis C virus coat protein E2 by recombinant hybrid Abs composed of the heavy chain of a high affinity anti-E2 IgG1 paired with light chains expressing promiscuous catalytic activity. The proteolytic activity was evident from electrophoresis assays using recombinant E2 substrates containing glutathione S-transferase (E2-GST) or FLAG peptide (E2-FLAG) tags. The proteolytic reaction proceeded more rapidly in the presence of the hybrid IgG1 compared to the unpaired light chain, consistent with accelerated peptide bond hydrolysis due to noncovalent VH domain-E2 recognition. An active site-directed inhibitor of serine proteases inhibited the proteolytic activity of the hybrid IgG, indicating a serine protease mechanism. Binding studies confirmed that the hybrid IgG retained detectable noncovalent E2 recognition capability, although at a level smaller than the wildtype anti-E2 IgG. Immunoblotting of E2-FLAG treated with the hybrid IgG suggested a scissile bond within E2 located ∼11 kD from the N terminus of the protein. E2-GST was hydrolyzed by the hybrid IgG at peptide bonds located in the GST tag. The differing cleavage pattern of E2-FLAG and E2-GST can be explained by the split-site model of catalysis, in which conformational differences in the E2 fusion protein substrates position alternate peptide bonds in register with the antibody catalytic subsite despite a common noncovalent binding mechanism. This is the first proof-of principle that the catalytic activity of a light chain can be rendered antigen-specific by pairing with a noncovalently binding heavy chain subunit.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Sapparapu, Gopal, "Antigen-specific proteolytic antibodies" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3358131.