Thermal stabilization of anti-α-cobratoxin single domain antibodies

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Abstract

There is an unmet need for snake antivenoms that can be stored ready to use near the point of care. To address that need we have taken two anti-α-cobratoxin single domain antibodies and increased their thermal stability to improve their ambient temperature shelf-life. The anti-α-cobratoxin single domain antibodies C2 and C20 were first isolated, and demonstrated to be toxin neutralizing by Richard et al., 2013 (Richard, G., Meyers, A.J., McLean, M.D., Arbabi-Ghahroudi, M., MacKenzie, R., Hall, J.C., 2013. In vivo neutralization of alpha-cobratoxin with high-affinity llama single-domain antibodies (VHHs) and a VHH-Fc antibody. PLoS One 8, e69495). To thermal stabilize C2 and C20, we first made changes to their frame work 1 region that we had previously identified to be stabilizing, as well as reverted to the hallmark amino acids highly conserved in VHH domains; these changes improved their melting temperature (Tm) by 2 and 6 °C respectively. The further addition of a non-canonical disulfide bond raised the Tm an additional 13 and 9 °C respectively; giving final Tm values of 86 and 75 °C. Testing these mutants at 1 mg/mL at a range of elevated temperatures for an hour; we found that at 65 °C the wild type C2 and C20 had lost 35 and 95% of their binding activity respectively, while the mutants with the added disulfide bond retained nearly 100% of their initial binding activity. While significant work remains to formulate and field a shelf-stable antivenom, our results indicate such a product should be attainable in the near future.

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