Insights into the potential aggregation liabilities of the b12 Fab fragment via elevated temperature molecular dynamics

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Aggregation is a common hurdle faced during the development of antibody therapeutics. In this study, we explore the potential aggregation liabilities of the Fab (fragment antigen-binding) from a human IgG1κ antibody via multiple elevated temperature molecular dynamic simulations, analogous to accelerated stability studies performed during formulation development. Deformation and solvent exposure changes in response to thermal stress were monitored for individual structural domains (VH, VL, CH1 and CL), their interfaces (VH:VL and CH1:CL), edge beta-strands and sequence-predicted aggregation-prone regions (APRs). During simulations, domain interfaces deformed prior to the unfolding of individual domains. However, interfacial beta-strands retained their secondary structure and remained solvent protected longer than all other strands or loops. Thus, APRs located in interfacial beta-strands are effectively blocked from self-association. Structural deformations were also observed in complementarity-determining regions, edge beta-strands and adjoining framework beta-strands, which increased their solvent-accessible surface area and exposed APRs in these regions. From the analysis of these structural changes, two potential aggregation liabilities were identified in the VH domain of this Fab. Insights gained from this investigation should be useful in devising a rational structure-based strategy for the design and selection of antibody candidates with high potency and improved developability.

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