Fu, Zhang, Zhou, Pritts, Zhang (2020) Assessing localized conformational stability of antibody-drug conjugate by protein conformation assay Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis 179() 113020


Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are a class of attractive therapeutic agents to fight cancer with conjugation of potent chemical agents on target-selective antibodies. The conceptually elegant approach has encountered mounting practical challenges in combining the mAb and potent drug while maintaining the conformational and physiochemical stability of the bioconjugates. The attachment of hydrophobic drug-linker with antibody could potentially alter the antibody conformational scaffold, locally or globally. Here we propose to use a protein conformation assay (PCA) to measure the higher-order structure of antibodies upon drug-linker conjugation. The PCA analysis provides insights into the formation of partially unfolded ADCs, which may correlate with protein stability and aggregation propensity. To further elucidate the cause of the unfolding events, in-depth peptide mapping combined with the PCA conformational footprints were performed on a commercial ADC trastuzumab emtansine in this study. The locally altered conformational hot-spots observed in PCA matched with conjugation sites with high occupancy rate identified in peptide mapping. In summary, by combining PCA and in-depth peptide mapping, a snapshot of ADC structural conformation and stability profile could be obtained and provide a swift and convenient measurement of the 'fitness' of ADC to facilitate payload selection, conjugation process development and early predictive developability assessment. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.