Affinity maturation of T-cell receptor-like antibodies for Wilms tumor 1 peptide greatly enhances therapeutic potential
Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
WT1126 (RMFPNAPYL) is a human leukocyte antigen-A2 (HLA-A2)-restricted peptide derived from Wilms tumor protein 1 (WT1), which is widely expressed in a broad spectrum of leukemias, lymphomas and solid tumors. A novel T-cell-receptor (TCR)-like single-chain variable fragment (scFv) antibody specific for the T-cell epitope consisting of the WT1/HLA-A2 complex was isolated from a human scFv phage library. This scFv was affinity-matured by mutagenesis combined with yeast display and structurally analyzed using a homology model. This monovalent scFv showed a 100-fold affinity improvement (dissociation constant (KD)=3 nm) and exquisite specificity towards its targeted epitope or HLA-A2(+)/WT1(+) tumor cells. Bivalent scFv-huIgG1-Fc fusion protein demonstrated an even higher avidity (KD=2 pm) binding to the T-cell epitope and to tumor targets and was capable of mediating antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity or tumor lysis by chimeric antigen receptor-expressing human T- or NK-92-MI-transfected cells. This antibody demonstrated specific and potent cytotoxicity in vivo towards WT1-positive leukemia xenograft that was HLA-A2 restricted. In summary, T-cell epitopes can provide novel targets for antibody-based therapeutics. By combining phage and yeast displays and scFv-Fc fusion platforms, a strategy for developing high-affinity TCR-like antibodies could be rapidly explored for potential clinical development.