: YYB-101 is a humanized rabbit anti-human hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-neutralizing antibody currently in clinical trial. To test the effect of HGF neutralization with antibody on anti-cancer T cell immunity, we generated surrogate antibodies that are reactive to the mouse homologue of the epitope targeted by YYB-101. First, we immunized a chicken with human HGF and monitored changes in the B cell repertoire by next-generation sequencing (NGS). We then extracted the VH gene repertoire from the NGS data, clustered it into components by sequence homology, and classified the components by the change in the number of unique VH sequences and the frequencies of the VH sequences within each component following immunization. Those changes should accompany the preferential proliferation and somatic hypermutation or gene conversion of B cells encoding HGF-reactive antibodies. One component showed significant increases in the number and frequencies of unique VH sequences and harbored genes encoding antibodies that were reactive to human HGF and competitive with YYB-101 for HGF binding. Some of the antibodies also reacted to mouse HGF. The selected VH sequences shared 98.3% identity and 98.9% amino acid similarity. It is therefore likely that the antibodies encoded by them all react to the epitope targeted by YYB-101.
Keywords: B cell receptor; hepatocyte growth factor; immune profiling; next-generation sequencing.