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FEBS Lett. 2001 Nov 23;508(3):407-12.

Antigen-independent selection of stable intracellular single-chain antibodies.

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  • 1ESBATech AG, Winterthurerstr. 190, CH-8057, Zurich, Switzerland.


The intracellular expression of single-chain Fv antibody fragments (scFv) in eukaryotic cells has an enormous potential in functional genomics and therapeutics [Marasco (1997) Gene Ther. 4, 11-15; Richardson and Marasco (1995) Trends Biotechnol. 13, 306-310]. However, the application of these so-called intrabodies is currently limited by their unpredictable behavior under the reducing conditions encountered inside eukaryotic cells, which can affect their stability and solubility properties [Wörn et al. (2000) J. Biol. Chem. 275, 2795-2803; Biocca et al. (1995) Bio/Technology 13, 1110-1115]. We present a novel system that enables selection of stable and soluble intrabody frameworks in vivo without the requirement or knowledge of antigens. This system is based on the expression of single-chain antibodies fused to a selectable marker that can control gene expression and cell growth. Our results show that the activity of a selectable marker fused to well characterized scFvs [Wörn et al. (2000) J. Biol. Chem. 275, 2795-2803] correlates with the solubility and stability of the scFv moieties. This method provides a unique tool to identify stable and soluble scFv frameworks, which subsequently serve as acceptor backbones to construct intrabody complementarity determining region libraries by randomization of hypervariable loops.

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