Successful antibody development requires both functional binding and desirable biophysical characteristics. In the current study, we analyze the causes of one hurdle to clinical development, off-target reactivity, or nonspecificity. We used a high-throughput nonspecificity assay to isolate panels of nonspecific antibodies from two synthetic single-chain variable fragment libraries expressed on the surface of yeast, identifying both individual amino acids and motifs within the complementarity-determining regions which contribute to the phenotype. We find enrichment of glycine, valine, and arginine as both individual amino acids and as a part of motifs, and additionally enrichment of motifs containing tryptophan. Insertion of any of these motifs into the complementarity-determining region H3 of a "clean" antibody increased its nonspecificity, with greatest increases in antibodies containing Trp or Val motifs. We next applied these rules to the creation of a synthetic diversity library based on natural frameworks with significantly decreased incorporation of such motifs and demonstrated its ability to isolate binders to a wide panel of antigens. This work both provides a greater understanding of the drivers of nonspecificity and provides design rules to increase efficiency in the isolation of antibodies with drug-like properties.
Keywords: complementarity-determining region; cross-interaction; monoclonal antibody; nonspecificity; synthetic scFv library.
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