Neutralization of Clostridium difficile toxin A with single-domain antibodies targeting the cell receptor binding domain.
ABSTRACT: Clostridium difficile is a leading cause of nosocomial infection in North America and a considerable challenge to healthcare professionals in hospitals and nursing homes. The gram-positive bacterium produces two high molecular weight exotoxins, toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB), which are the major virulence factors responsible for C. difficile-associated disease and are targets for C. difficile-associated disease therapy. Here, recombinant single-domain antibody fragments (V(H)Hs), which specifically target the cell receptor binding domains of TcdA or TcdB, were isolated from an immune llama phage display library and characterized. Four V(H)Hs (A4.2, A5.1, A20.1, and A26.8), all shown to recognize conformational epitopes, were potent neutralizers of the cytopathic effects of toxin A on fibroblast cells in an in vitro assay. The neutralizing potency was further enhanced when V(H)Hs were administered in paired or triplet combinations at the same overall V(H)H concentration, suggesting recognition of nonoverlapping TcdA epitopes. Biacore epitope mapping experiments revealed that some synergistic combinations consisted of V(H)Hs recognizing overlapping epitopes, an indication that factors other than mere epitope blocking are responsible for the increased neutralization. Further binding assays revealed TcdA-specific V(H)Hs neutralized toxin A by binding to sites other than the carbohydrate binding pocket of the toxin. With favorable characteristics such as high production yield, potent toxin neutralization, and intrinsic stability, these V(H)Hs are attractive systemic therapeutics but are more so as oral therapeutics in the destabilizing environment of the gastrointestinal tract.
Project description:The exotoxins toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB) are produced by the bacterial pathogen Clostridium difficile and are responsible for the pathology associated with C. difficile infection (CDI). The antitoxin antibodies actoxumab and bezlotoxumab bind to and neutralize TcdA and TcdB, respectively. Bezlotoxumab was recently approved by the FDA for reducing the recurrence of CDI. We have previously shown that a single molecule of bezlotoxumab binds to two distinct epitopes within the TcdB combined repetitive oligopeptide (CROP) domain, preventing toxin binding to host cells. In this study, we characterize the binding of actoxumab to TcdA and examine its mechanism of toxin neutralization. Using a combination of approaches including a number of biophysical techniques, we show that there are two distinct actoxumab binding sites within the CROP domain of TcdA centered on identical amino acid sequences at residues 2162-2189 and 2410-2437. Actoxumab binding caused the aggregation of TcdA especially at higher antibody:toxin concentration ratios. Actoxumab prevented the association of TcdA with target cells demonstrating that actoxumab neutralizes toxin activity by inhibiting the first step of the intoxication cascade. This mechanism of neutralization is similar to that observed with bezlotoxumab and TcdB. Comparisons of the putative TcdA epitope sequences across several C. difficile ribotypes and homologous repeat sequences within TcdA suggest a structural basis for observed differences in actoxumab binding and/or neutralization potency. These data provide a mechanistic basis for the protective effects of the antibody in vitro and in vivo, including in various preclinical models of CDI.
Project description:Clostridioides difficile is the causative bacterium in 15-20% of all antibiotic associated diarrheas. The symptoms associated with C. difficile infection (CDI) are primarily induced by the two large exotoxins TcdA and TcdB. Both toxins enter target cells by receptor-mediated endocytosis. Although different toxin receptors have been identified, it is no valid therapeutic option to prevent receptor endocytosis. Therapeutics, such as neutralizing antibodies, directly targeting both toxins are in development. Interestingly, only the anti-TcdB antibody bezlotoxumab but not the anti-TcdA antibody actoxumab prevented recurrence of CDI in clinical trials. In this work, 31 human antibody fragments against TcdB were selected by antibody phage display from the human naive antibody gene libraries HAL9/10. These antibody fragments were further characterized by in vitro neutralization assays. The epitopes of the neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibody fragments were analyzed by domain mapping, TcdB fragment phage display, and peptide arrays, to identify neutralizing and non-neutralizing epitopes. A new neutralizing epitope within the glucosyltransferase domain of TcdB was identified, providing new insights into the relevance of different toxin regions in respect of neutralization and toxicity.
Project description:Clostridium difficile infections (CDIs) are the leading cause of hospital-acquired infectious diarrhea and primarily involve two exotoxins, TcdA and TcdB. Actoxumab and bezlotoxumab are human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize the cytotoxic/cytopathic effects of TcdA and TcdB, respectively. In a phase II clinical study, the actoxumab-bezlotoxumab combination reduced the rate of CDI recurrence in patients who were also treated with standard-of-care antibiotics. However, it is not known whether the antibody combination will be effective against a broad range of C. difficile strains. As a first step toward addressing this, we tested the ability of actoxumab and bezlotoxumab to neutralize the activities of toxins from a number of clinically relevant and geographically diverse strains of C. difficile. Neutralization potencies, as measured in a cell growth/survival assay with purified toxins from various C. difficile strains, correlated well with antibody/toxin binding affinities. Actoxumab and bezlotoxumab neutralized toxins from culture supernatants of all clinical isolates tested, including multiple isolates of the BI/NAP1/027 and BK/NAP7/078 strains, at antibody concentrations well below plasma levels observed in humans. We compared the bezlotoxumab epitopes in the TcdB receptor binding domain across known TcdB sequences and found that key substitutions within the bezlotoxumab epitopes correlated with the relative differences in potencies of bezlotoxumab against TcdB of some strains, including ribotypes 027 and 078. Combined with in vitro neutralization data, epitope modeling will enhance our ability to predict the coverage of new and emerging strains by actoxumab-bezlotoxumab in the clinic.
Project description:Clostridium difficile infection is a serious and highly prevalent nosocomial disease in which the two large, Rho-glucosylating toxins TcdA and TcdB are the main virulence factors. We report for the first time crystal structures revealing how neutralizing and non-neutralizing single-domain antibodies (sdAbs) recognize the receptor-binding domains (RBDs) of TcdA and TcdB. Surprisingly, the complexes formed by two neutralizing antibodies recognizing TcdA do not show direct interference with the previously identified carbohydrate-binding sites, suggesting that neutralization of toxin activity may be mediated by mechanisms distinct from steric blockage of receptor binding. A camelid sdAb complex also reveals the molecular structure of the TcdB RBD for the first time, facilitating the crystallization of a strongly negatively charged protein fragment that has resisted previous attempts at crystallization and structure determination. Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry measurements confirm the stoichiometries of sdAbs observed in the crystal structures. These studies indicate how key epitopes in the RBDs from TcdA and TcdB are recognized by sdAbs, providing molecular insights into toxin structure and function and providing for the first time a basis for the design of highly specific toxin-specific therapeutic and diagnostic agents.
Project description:Clostridium difficile infection is the leading cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea and is mediated by the actions of two toxins, TcdA and TcdB. The toxins perturb host cell function through a multistep process of receptor binding, endocytosis, low pH-induced pore formation, and the translocation and delivery of an N-terminal glucosyltransferase domain that inactivates host GTPases. Infection studies with isogenic strains having defined toxin deletions have established TcdB as an important target for therapeutic development. Monoclonal antibodies that neutralize TcdB function have been shown to protect against C. difficile infection in animal models and reduce recurrence in humans. Here, we report the mechanism of TcdB neutralization by PA41, a humanized monoclonal antibody capable of neutralizing TcdB from a diverse array of C. difficile strains. Through a combination of structural, biochemical, and cell functional studies, involving X-ray crystallography and EM, we show that PA41 recognizes a single, highly conserved epitope on the TcdB glucosyltransferase domain and blocks productive translocation and delivery of the enzymatic cargo into the host cell. Our study reveals a unique mechanism of C. difficile toxin neutralization by a monoclonal antibody, which involves targeting a process that is conserved across the large clostridial glucosylating toxins. The PA41 antibody described here provides a valuable tool for dissecting the mechanism of toxin pore formation and translocation across the endosomal membrane.
Project description:Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection (CDI) is the main cause of nosocomial antibiotic-associated colitis and increased incidence of community-associated diarrhea in industrialized countries. At present, the primary treatment of CDI is antibiotic administration, which is effective but often associated with recurrence, especially in the elderly. Pathogenic strains produce enterotoxin, toxin A (TcdA), and cytotoxin, toxin B (TcdB), which are necessary for C. difficile induced diarrhea and gut pathological changes. Administration of anti-toxin antibodies provides an alternative approach to treat CDI, and has shown promising results in preclinical and clinical studies. In the current study, several humanized anti-TcdA and anti-TcdB monoclonal antibodies were generated and their protective potency was characterized in a hamster infection model. The humanized anti-TcdA (CANmAbA4) and anti-TcdB (CANmAbB4 and CANmAbB1) antibodies showed broad spectrum in vitro neutralization of toxins from clinical strains and neutralization in a mouse toxin challenge model. Moreover, co-administration of humanized antibodies (CANmAbA4 and CANmAbB4 cocktail) provided a high level of protection in a dose dependent manner (85% versus 57% survival at day 22 for 50 mg/kg and 20 mg/kg doses, respectively) in a hamster gastrointestinal infection (GI) model. This study describes the protective effects conferred by novel neutralizing anti-toxin monoclonal antibodies against C. difficile toxins and their potential as therapeutic agents in treating CDI.
Project description:Clostridium difficile infections are a major cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in hospital and care facility patients. In spite of the availability of effective antibiotic treatments, C. difficile infection (CDI) is still a major cause of patient suffering, death, and substantial health care costs. Clostridium difficile exerts its major pathological effects through the actions of two protein exotoxins, TcdA and TcdB, which bind to and disrupt gut tissue. Antibiotics target the infecting bacteria but not the exotoxins. Administering neutralizing antibodies against TcdA and TcdB to patients receiving antibiotic treatment might modulate the effects of the exotoxins directly. We have developed a mixture of three humanized IgG1 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) which neutralize TcdA and TcdB to address three clinical needs: reduction of the severity and duration of diarrhea, reduction of death rates, and reduction of the rate of recurrence. The UCB MAb mixture showed higher potency in a variety of in vitro binding and neutralization assays (?10-fold improvements), higher levels of protection in a hamster model of CDI (82% versus 18% at 28 days), and higher valencies of toxin binding (12 versus 2 for TcdA and 3 versus 2 for TcdB) than other agents in clinical development. Comparisons of the MAb properties also offered some insight into the potential relative importance of TcdA and TcdB in the disease process.
Project description:Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) constitutes a large majority of nosocomial diarrhea cases in industrialized nations and is mediated by the effects of two secreted toxins, toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB). Patients who develop strong antitoxin antibody responses can clear C. difficile infection and remain disease free. Key toxin-neutralizing epitopes have been found within the carboxy-terminal receptor binding domains (RBDs) of TcdA and TcdB, which has generated interest in developing the RBD as a viable vaccine target. While numerous platforms have been studied, very little data describes the potential of DNA vaccination against CDAD. Therefore, we created highly optimized plasmids encoding the RBDs from TcdA and TcdB in which any putative N-linked glycosylation sites were altered. Mice and nonhuman primates were immunized intramuscularly, followed by in vivo electroporation, and in these animal models, vaccination induced significant levels of both anti-RBD antibodies (blood and stool) and RBD-specific antibody-secreting cells. Further characterization revealed that sera from immunized mice and nonhuman primates could detect RBD protein from transfected cells, as well as neutralize purified toxins in an in vitro cytotoxicity assay. Mice that were immunized with plasmids or given nonhuman-primate sera were protected from a lethal challenge with purified TcdA and/or TcdB. Moreover, immunized mice were significantly protected when challenged with C. difficile spores from homologous (VPI 10463) and heterologous, epidemic (UK1) strains. These data demonstrate the robust immunogenicity and efficacy of a TcdA/B RBD-based DNA vaccine in preclinical models of acute toxin-associated and intragastric, spore-induced colonic disease.
Project description:The symptoms of Clostridium difficile infections are caused by two exotoxins, TcdA and TcdB, which target host colonocytes by binding to unknown cell surface receptors, at least in part via their combined repetitive oligopeptide (CROP) domains. A combination of the anti-TcdA antibody actoxumab and the anti-TcdB antibody bezlotoxumab is currently under development for the prevention of recurrent C. difficile infections. We demonstrate here through various biophysical approaches that bezlotoxumab binds to specific regions within the N-terminal half of the TcdB CROP domain. Based on this information, we solved the x-ray structure of the N-terminal half of the TcdB CROP domain bound to Fab fragments of bezlotoxumab. The structure reveals that the TcdB CROP domain adopts a ?-solenoid fold consisting of long and short repeats and that bezlotoxumab binds to two homologous sites within the CROP domain, partially occluding two of the four putative carbohydrate binding pockets located in TcdB. We also show that bezlotoxumab neutralizes TcdB by blocking binding of TcdB to mammalian cells. Overall, our data are consistent with a model wherein a single molecule of bezlotoxumab neutralizes TcdB by binding via its two Fab regions to two epitopes within the N-terminal half of the TcdB CROP domain, partially blocking the carbohydrate binding pockets of the toxin and preventing toxin binding to host cells.
Project description:Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is mediated by two major exotoxins, toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB), that damage the colonic epithelial barrier and induce inflammatory responses. The function of the colonic vascular barrier during CDI has been relatively understudied. Here we report increased colonic vascular permeability in CDI mice and elevated vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), which was induced in vivo by infection with TcdA- and/or TcdB-producing C. difficile strains but not with a TcdA-TcdB- isogenic mutant. TcdA or TcdB also induced the expression of VEGF-A in human colonic mucosal biopsies. Hypoxia-inducible factor signalling appeared to mediate toxin-induced VEGF production in colonocytes, which can further stimulate human intestinal microvascular endothelial cells. Both neutralization of VEGF-A and inhibition of its signalling pathway attenuated CDI in vivo. Compared to healthy controls, CDI patients had significantly higher serum VEGF-A that subsequently decreased after treatment. Our findings indicate critical roles for toxin-induced VEGF-A and colonic vascular permeability in CDI pathogenesis and may also point to the pathophysiological significance of the gut vascular barrier in response to virulence factors of enteric pathogens. As an alternative to pathogen-targeted therapy, this study may enable new host-directed therapeutic approaches for severe, refractory CDI.