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MAbs. 2011 May-Jun;3(3):253-63. Epub 2011 May 1.

Fragmentation of monoclonal antibodies.

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1
BioProcess Analytical and Formulation Sciences Department; Merck Research Laboratories; Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp., West Point, PA, USA.

Abstract

Fragmentation is a degradation pathway ubiquitously observed in proteins despite the remarkable stability of peptide bond; proteins differ only by how much and where cleavage occurs. The goal of this review is to summarize reports regarding the non-enzymatic fragmentation of the peptide backbone of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). The sites in the polypeptide chain susceptible to fragmentation are determined by a multitude of factors. Insights are provided on the intimate chemical mechanisms that can make some bonds prone to cleavage due to the presence of specific side-chains. In addition to primary structure, the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures have a significant impact in modulating the distribution of cleavage sites by altering local flexibility, accessibility to solvent or bringing in close proximity side chains that are remote in sequence. This review focuses on cleavage sites observed in the constant regions of mAbs, with special emphasis on hinge fragmentation. The mechanisms responsible for backbone cleavage are strongly dependent on pH and can be catalyzed by metals or radicals. The distribution of cleavage sites are different under acidic compared to basic conditions, with fragmentation rates exhibiting a minimum in the pH range 5 to 6; therefore, the overall fragmentation pattern observed for a mAb is a complex result of structural and solvent conditions. A critical review of the techniques used to monitor fragmentation is also presented; usually a compromise has to be made between a highly sensitive method with good fragment separation and the capability to identify the cleavage site. The effect of fragmentation on the function of a mAb must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis depending on whether cleavage sites are observed in the variable or constant regions, and on the mechanism of action of the molecule.

PMID:
21487244
PMCID:
PMC3149706
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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