Computationally-driven identification of antibody epitopes.
ABSTRACT: Understanding where antibodies recognize antigens can help define mechanisms of action and provide insights into progression of immune responses. We investigate the extent to which information about binding specificity implicitly encoded in amino acid sequence can be leveraged to identify antibody epitopes. In computationally-driven epitope localization, possible antibody-antigen binding modes are modeled, and targeted panels of antigen variants are designed to experimentally test these hypotheses. Prospective application of this approach to two antibodies enabled epitope localization using five or fewer variants per antibody, or alternatively, a six-variant panel for both simultaneously. Retrospective analysis of a variety of antibodies and antigens demonstrated an almost 90% success rate with an average of three antigen variants, further supporting the observation that the combination of computational modeling and protein design can reveal key determinants of antibody-antigen binding and enable efficient studies of collections of antibodies identified from polyclonal samples or engineered libraries.
Project description:Antibodies from B-cell clonal lineages share sequence and structural properties as well as epitope specificity. Clonally unrelated antibodies can similarly share sequence and specificity properties and are said to be convergent. Convergent antibody responses against several antigens have been described in humans and mice and include different classes of shared sequence features. In particular, some antigens and epitopes can induce convergent responses of clonally unrelated antibodies with restricted heavy (VH) and light (VL) chain variable region germline segment usage without similarity in the heavy chain third complementarity-determining region (CDR H3), a critical specificity determinant. Whether these V germline segment-restricted responses reflect a general epitope specificity restriction of antibodies with shared VH/VL pairing is not known. Here, we investigated this question by determining patterns of antigen binding competition between clonally unrelated antigen-specific rat antibodies from paired-chain deep sequencing datasets selected based solely on VH/VL pairing. We found that antibodies with shared VH/VL germline segment pairings but divergent CDR H3 sequences almost invariably have restricted epitope specificity indicated by shared binding competition patterns. This epitope restriction included 82 of 85 clonally unrelated antibodies with 13 different VH/VL pairings binding in 8 epitope groups in 2 antigens. The corollary that antibodies with shared VH/VL pairing and epitope-restricted binding can accommodate widely divergent CDR H3 sequences was confirmed by in vitro selection of variants of anti-human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 antibodies known to mediate critical antigen interactions through CDR H3. Our results show that restricted epitope specificity determined by VH/VL germline segment pairing is a general property of rodent antigen-specific antibodies.
Project description:Antibodies have the ability to bind various types of antigens and to recognize different antibody-binding sites (epitopes) of the same antigen with different binding affinities. Due to the conserved structural framework of antibodies, their specificity to antigens is mainly determined by their antigen-binding site (paratope). Therefore, characterization of epitopes in combination with describing the involved conformational changes of the paratope upon binding is crucial in understanding and predicting antibody-antigen binding. Using molecular dynamics simulations complemented with strong experimental structural information, we investigated the underlying binding mechanism and the resulting local and global surface plasticity in the binding interfaces of distinct antibody-antigen complexes. In all studied allergen-antibody complexes, we clearly observe that experimentally suggested epitopes reveal less plasticity, while non-epitope regions show high surface plasticity. Surprisingly, the paratope shows higher conformational diversity reflected in substantially higher surface plasticity, compared to the epitope. This work allows a visualization and characterization of antibody-antigen interfaces and might have strong implications for antibody-antigen docking and in the area of epitope prediction.
Project description:Structural flexibility in germline gene-encoded antibodies allows promiscuous binding to diverse antigens. The binding affinity and specificity for a particular epitope typically increase as antibody genes acquire somatic mutations in antigen-stimulated B cells. In this work, we investigated whether germline gene-encoded antibodies are optimal for polyspecificity by determining the basis for recognition of diverse antigens by antibodies encoded by three VH gene segments. Panels of somatically mutated antibodies encoded by a common VH gene, but each binding to a different antigen, were computationally redesigned to predict antibodies that could engage multiple antigens at once. The Rosetta multi-state design process predicted antibody sequences for the entire heavy chain variable region, including framework, CDR1, and CDR2 mutations. The predicted sequences matched the germline gene sequences to a remarkable degree, revealing by computational design the residues that are predicted to enable polyspecificity, i.e., binding of many unrelated antigens with a common sequence. The process thereby reverses antibody maturation in silico. In contrast, when designing antibodies to bind a single antigen, a sequence similar to that of the mature antibody sequence was returned, mimicking natural antibody maturation in silico. We demonstrated that the Rosetta computational design algorithm captures important aspects of antibody/antigen recognition. While the hypervariable region CDR3 often mediates much of the specificity of mature antibodies, we identified key positions in the VH gene encoding CDR1, CDR2, and the immunoglobulin framework that are critical contributors for polyspecificity in germline antibodies. Computational design of antibodies capable of binding multiple antigens may allow the rational design of antibodies that retain polyspecificity for diverse epitope binding.
Project description:Vaccines and immunotherapies depend on the ability of antibodies to sensitively and specifically recognize particular antigens and specific epitopes on those antigens. As such, detailed characterization of antibody-antigen binding provides important information to guide development. Due to the time and expense required, high-resolution structural characterization techniques are typically used sparingly and late in a development process. Here, we show that antibody-antigen binding can be characterized early in a process for whole panels of antibodies by combining experimental and computational analyses of competition between monoclonal antibodies for binding to an antigen. Experimental "epitope binning" of monoclonal antibodies uses high-throughput surface plasmon resonance to reveal which antibodies compete, while a new complementary computational analysis that we call "dock binning" evaluates antibody-antigen docking models to identify why and where they might compete, in terms of possible binding sites on the antigen. Experimental and computational characterization of the identified antigenic hotspots then enables the refinement of the competitors and their associated epitope binding regions on the antigen. While not performed at atomic resolution, this approach allows for the group-level identification of functionally related monoclonal antibodies (i.e., communities) and identification of their general binding regions on the antigen. By leveraging extensive epitope characterization data that can be readily generated both experimentally and computationally, researchers can gain broad insights into the basis for antibody-antigen recognition in wide-ranging vaccine and immunotherapy discovery and development programs.
Project description:Vaccinia virus (VACV) A27 is a target for viral neutralization and part of the Dryvax smallpox vaccine. A27 is one of the three glycosaminoglycan (GAG) adhesion molecules and binds to heparan sulfate. To understand the function of anti-A27 antibodies, especially their protective capacity and their interaction with A27, we generated and subsequently characterized 7 murine monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), which fell into 4 distinct epitope groups (groups I to IV). The MAbs in three groups (groups I, III, and IV) bound to linear peptides, while the MAbs in group II bound only to VACV lysate and recombinant A27, suggesting that they recognized a conformational and discontinuous epitope. Only group I antibodies neutralized the mature virion in a complement-dependent manner and protected against VACV challenge, while a group II MAb partially protected against VACV challenge but did not neutralize the mature virion. The epitope for group I MAbs was mapped to a region adjacent to the GAG binding site, a finding which suggests that group I MAbs could potentially interfere with the cellular adhesion of A27. We further determined the crystal structure of the neutralizing group I MAb 1G6, as well as the nonneutralizing group IV MAb 8E3, bound to the corresponding linear epitope-containing peptides. Both the light and the heavy chains of the antibodies are important in binding to their antigens. For both antibodies, the L1 loop seems to dominate the overall polar interactions with the antigen, while for MAb 8E3, the light chain generally appears to make more contacts with the antigen.Vaccinia virus is a powerful model to study antibody responses upon vaccination, since its use as the smallpox vaccine led to the eradication of one of the world's greatest killers. The immunodominant antigens that elicit the protective antibodies are known, yet for many of these antigens, little information about their precise interaction with antibodies is available. In an attempt to better understand the interplay between the antibodies and their antigens, we generated and functionally characterized a panel of anti-A27 antibodies and studied their interaction with the epitope using X-ray crystallography. We identified one protective antibody that binds adjacent to the heparan sulfate binding site of A27, likely affecting ligand binding. Analysis of the antibody-antigen interaction supports a model in which antibodies that can interfere with the functional activity of the antigen are more likely to confer protection than those that bind at the extremities of the antigen.
Project description:Although multiple different procedures to characterize the epitopes recognized by antibodies have been developed, site-directed mutagenesis remains the method of choice to define the energetic contribution of antigen residues to binding. These studies are useful to identify critical residues and to delineate functional maps of the epitopes. However, they tend to underestimate the roles of residues that are not critical for binding on their own, but contribute to the formation of the target epitope in an additive, or even cooperative, way. Mapping antigenic determinants with a diffuse energetic landscape, which establish multiple individually weak interactions with the antibody paratope, resulting in high affinity and specificity recognition of the epitope as a whole, is thus technically challenging. The current work was aimed at developing a combinatorial strategy to overcome the limitations of site-directed mutagenesis, relying on comprehensive randomization of discrete antigenic regions within phage-displayed antigen libraries. Two model antibodies recognizing epidermal growth factor were used to validate the mapping platform. Abrogation of antibody recognition due to the introduction of simultaneous replacements was able to show the involvement of particular amino acid clusters in epitope formation. The abundance of some of the original residues (or functionally equivalent amino acids sharing their physicochemical properties) among the set of mutated antigen variants selected on a given antibody highlighted their contributions and allowed delineation of a detailed functional map of the corresponding epitope. The use of the combinatorial approach could be expanded to map the interactions between other antigens/antibodies.
Project description:X-ray crystallography has shown that an antibody paratope typically binds 15-22 amino acids (aa) of an epitope, of which 2-5 randomly distributed amino acids contribute most of the binding energy. In contrast, researchers typically choose for B-cell epitope mapping short peptide antigens in antibody binding assays. Furthermore, short 6-11-aa epitopes, and in particular non-epitopes, are over-represented in published B-cell epitope datasets that are commonly used for development of B-cell epitope prediction approaches from protein antigen sequences. We hypothesized that such suboptimal length peptides result in weak antibody binding and cause false-negative results. We tested the influence of peptide antigen length on antibody binding by analyzing data on more than 900 peptides used for B-cell epitope mapping of immunodominant proteins of Chlamydia spp. We demonstrate that short 7-12-aa peptides of B-cell epitopes bind antibodies poorly; thus, epitope mapping with short peptide antigens falsely classifies many B-cell epitopes as non-epitopes. We also show in published datasets of confirmed epitopes and non-epitopes a direct correlation between length of peptide antigens and antibody binding. Elimination of short, ?11-aa epitope/non-epitope sequences improved datasets for evaluation of in silico B-cell epitope prediction. Achieving up to 86% accuracy, protein disorder tendency is the best indicator of B-cell epitope regions for chlamydial and published datasets. For B-cell epitope prediction, the most effective approach is plotting disorder of protein sequences with the IUPred-L scale, followed by antibody reactivity testing of 16-30-aa peptides from peak regions. This strategy overcomes the well known inaccuracy of in silico B-cell epitope prediction from primary protein sequences.
Project description:Currently, there are no methods available offering solutions to select and identify antibodies binding to a specific conformational epitope of an antigen. Here, we developed a method to allow epitope-directed antibody selection from a phage display library by photocrosslinking bound antibodies to a site that specifically incorporates a noncanonical amino acid, p-benzoyl-l-phenylalanine (pBpa), on the target antigen epitope. By one or two rounds of panning against antibody phage display libraries, those hits that covalently bind to the proximity site of pBpa on specific epitopes of target antigens after ultraviolet irradiation are enriched and selected. This method was applied to specific epitopes on human interleukin-1? and complement 5a. In both cases, more than one-third of hits identified bind to the target epitopes, demonstrating the feasibility and versatility of this method.
Project description:The heat-labile toxins (LT) produced by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli display adjuvant effects to coadministered antigens, leading to enhanced production of serum antibodies. Despite extensive knowledge of the adjuvant properties of LT derivatives, including in vitro-generated non-toxic mutant forms, little is known about the capacity of these adjuvants to modulate the epitope specificity of antibodies directed against antigens. This study characterizes the role of LT and its non-toxic B subunit (LTB) in the modulation of antibody responses to a coadministered antigen, the dengue virus (DENV) envelope glycoprotein domain III (EDIII), which binds to surface receptors and mediates virus entry into host cells. In contrast to non-adjuvanted or alum-adjuvanted formulations, antibodies induced in mice immunized with LT or LTB showed enhanced virus-neutralization effects that were not ascribed to a subclass shift or antigen affinity. Nonetheless, immunosignature analyses revealed that purified LT-adjuvanted EDIII-specific antibodies display distinct epitope-binding patterns with regard to antibodies raised in mice immunized with EDIII or the alum-adjuvanted vaccine. Notably, the analyses led to the identification of a specific EDIII epitope located in the EF to FG loop, which is involved in the entry of DENV into eukaryotic cells. The present results demonstrate that LT and LTB modulate the epitope specificity of antibodies generated after immunization with coadministered antigens that, in the case of EDIII, was associated with the induction of neutralizing antibody responses. These results open perspectives for the more rational development of vaccines with enhanced protective effects against DENV infections.
Project description:HLAMatchmaker is a structurally based matching program. Each HLA antigen is viewed as a string of epitopes represented by short sequences (triplets) involving polymorphic amino acid residues in antibody-accessible positions. HLAMatchmaker determines which triplets are different between donor and recipient, and this algorithm is clinically useful in determining HLA mismatch acceptability. Triplets provide however an incomplete description of the HLA epitope repertoire and expanded criteria must be used including longer sequences and polymorphic residues in discontinuous positions. Such criteria should consider the structural basis of antibody-antigen interactions including contact areas and binding energy, the essence of antigenicity. This report describes the development of a structurally defined HLA epitope repertoire based on stereochemical modeling of crystallized complexes of antibodies and different protein antigens. This analysis considered also data in the literature about contributions of amino acid residues to antigen-antibody binding energy. The results have led to the concept that HLA antigens like other antigenic proteins have structural epitopes consisting of 15-22 residues that constitute the binding face with alloantibody. Each structural epitope has a functional epitope of about 2-5 residues that dominate the strength and specificity of binding with antibody. The remaining residues of a structural epitope provide supplementary interactions that increase the stability of the antigen-antibody complex. Each functional epitope has one or more non-self residues and the term "eplet" is used to describe polymorphic HLA residues within 3.0-3.5 A of a given sequence position on the molecular surface. Many eplets represent short linear sequences identical to those referred to as triplets but others have residues in discontinuous sequence positions that cluster together on the molecular surface. Serologically defined HLA determinants correspond well to eplets. The eplet version of HLAMatchmaker represents therefore a more complete repertoire of structurally defined HLA epitopes and provides a more detailed assessment of HLA compatibility.