We describe here the design, construction and validation of ALTHEA Gold Libraries™. These single-chain variable fragment (scFv), semisynthetic libraries are built on synthetic human well-known IGHV and IGKV germline genes combined with natural human complementarity-determining region (CDR)-H3/JH (H3J) fragments. One IGHV gene provided a universal VH scaffold and was paired with two IGKV scaffolds to furnish different topographies for binding distinct epitopes. The scaffolds were diversified at positions identified as in contact with antigens in the known antigen-antibody complex structures. The diversification regime consisted of high-usage amino acids found at those positions in human antibody sequences. Functionality, stability and diversity of the libraries were improved throughout a three-step construction process. In a first step, fully synthetic primary libraries were generated by combining the diversified scaffolds with a set of synthetic neutral H3J germline gene fragments. The second step consisted of selecting the primary libraries for enhanced thermostability based on the natural capacity of Protein A to bind the universal VH scaffold. In the third and final step, the resultant stable synthetic antibody fragments were combined with natural H3J fragments obtained from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of a large pool of 200 donors. Validation of ALTHEA Gold Libraries™ with seven targets yielded specific antibodies in all the cases. Further characterization of the isolated antibodies indicated KD values as human IgG1 molecules in the single-digit and sub-nM range. The thermal stability (Tm) of all the antigen-binding fragments was 75°C-80°C, demonstrating that ALTHEA Gold Libraries™ are a valuable source of specific, high affinity and highly stable antibodies.
Keywords: Phage display; Protein A filtration; human albumin; lysozyme; next-generation sequencing; semisynthetic libraries; tumor necrosis factor.