Agonistic antibodies, which bind specifically to death receptor 5 (DR5), can trigger apoptosis in tumor cells through the extrinsic pathway. In this present study, we describe the use of a phage display to isolate a novel fully human agonistic single chain fragment variable (scFv) antibody, which targets DR5. After five rounds of panning a large (1.2 × 10⁸ clones) phage display library on DR5, a total of over 4000 scFv clones were screened by the phage ELISA. After screening for agonism in a cell-viability assay in vitro, a novel DR5-specific scFv antibody TR2-3 was isolated, which inhibited COLO205 and MDA-MB-231 tumor cell growth without any cross-linking agents. The activity of TR2-3 in inducing apoptosis in cancer cells was evaluated by using an Annexin V-PE apoptosis detection kit in combination with flow cytometry and the Hoechst 33342 and propidium iodide double staining analysis. In addition, the activation of caspase-dependent apoptosis was evaluated by Western blot assays. The results indicated that TR2-3 induced robust apoptosis of the COLO205 and MDA-MB-231 cells in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner, while it remarkably upregulated the cleavage of caspase-3 and caspase-8. Furthermore, TR2-3 suppressed the tumor growth significantly in the xenograft model. Taken together, these data suggest that TR2-3 exhibited potent antitumor activity both in vitro and in vivo. This work provides a novel human antibody, which might be a promising candidate for cancer therapy by targeting DR5.
Keywords: apoptosis; death receptor 5 (DR5); human antibody; phage display; single chain fragment variable (scFv).