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Protein Eng. 1991 Apr;4(4):463-8.

Protein engineering of diphtheria-toxin-related interleukin-2 fusion toxins to increase cytotoxic potency for high-affinity IL-2-receptor-bearing target cells.

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Evans Department of Clinical Research, University Hospital, Boston, MA 02118.


We have used site-directed insertion and point mutagenesis in an attempt to increase the cytotoxic potency and receptor-binding affinity of the diphtheria-toxin-related interleukin-2 (IL-2) fusion toxins. Previous studies have demonstrated that both the DAB486-IL-2 and DAB389-IL-2 forms of the fusion toxin consist of three functional domains: the N-terminal fragment-A-associated ADP-ribosyltransferase, the hydrophobic-membrane-associating domains, and the C-terminal receptor-binding domain of human IL-2. By insertion mutagenesis we have increased the apparent flexibility of the polypeptide chain between the membrane-associating domains and the receptor-binding domain of this fusion toxin. In comparison to DAB486-IL-2, the cytotoxic potency of the insertion mutants was increased by approximately 17-fold for high-affinity IL-2-receptor-bearing cell lines in vitro. Moreover, competitive displacement experiments using [125I]rIL-2 demonstrate that the increase in cytotoxic potency correlates with an increase in receptor-binding affinity for both the high and intermediate forms of the IL-2 receptor.

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