The monospecific and bivalent characteristics of naturally occurring immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies depend on homodimerization of the fragment crystallizable (Fc) regions of two identical heavy chains (HCs) and the subsequent assembly of two identical light chains (LCs) via disulfide linkages between each HC and LC. Immunoglobulin Fc heterodimers have been engineered through modifications to the CH3 domain interface, with different mutations on each domain such that the engineered Fc fragments, carrying the CH3 variant pair, preferentially form heterodimers rather than homodimers. Many research groups have adopted different strategies to generate Fc heterodimers, with the goal of high heterodimerization yield, while retaining biophysical and biological properties of the wild-type Fc. Based on their ability to enforce heterodimerization between the two different HCs, the established Fc heterodimers have been extensively exploited as a scaffold to generate bispecific antibodies (bsAbs) in full-length IgG and IgG-like formats. These have many of the favorable properties of natural IgG antibodies, such as high stability, long serum half-life, low immunogenicity, and immune effector functions. As of July 2016, more than seven heterodimeric Fc-based IgG-format bsAbs are being evaluated in clinical trials. In addition to bsAbs, heterodimeric Fc technology is very promising for the generation of Fc-fused proteins and peptides, as well as cytokines (immunocytokines), which can present the fusion partners in the natural monomeric or heterodimeric form rather than the artificial homodimeric form with wild-type Fc. Here, we present relevant concepts and strategies for the generation of heterodimeric Fc proteins, and their application in the development of bsAbs in diverse formats for optimal biological activity. In addition, we describe wild-type Fc-fused monomeric and heterodimeric proteins, along with the difficulties associated with their preparations, and discuss the use of heterodimeric Fc as an alternative scaffold of wild-type Fc for naturally monomeric or heterodimeric proteins, to create Fc-fusion proteins with novel therapeutic modality.
Keywords: Fc engineering; Fc-fusion proteins; antibody engineering; bispecific antibody; heterodimeric Fc; immunocytokines.