The construction of large libraries in mammalian cells allows the direct screening of millions of molecular variants for binding properties in a cell type relevant for screening or production. We have created mammalian cell libraries of up to 10 million clones displaying a repertoire of IgG-formatted antibodies on the cell surface. TALE nucleases or CRISPR/Cas9 were used to direct the integration of the antibody genes into a single genomic locus, thereby rapidly achieving stable expression and transcriptional normalization. The utility of the system is illustrated by the affinity maturation of a PD-1-blocking antibody through the systematic mutation and functional survey of 4-mer variants within a 16 amino acid paratope region. Mutating VH CDR3 only, we identified a dominant "solution" involving substitution of a central tyrosine to histidine. This appears to be a local affinity maximum, and this variant was surpassed by a lysine substitution when light chain variants were introduced. We achieve this comprehensive and quantitative interrogation of sequence space by combining high-throughput oligonucleotide synthesis with mammalian display and flow cytometry operating at the multi-million scale.
Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9; IgG antibody library; Mammalian display; TALE nuclease; affinity maturation; fluorescence-activated cell sorting; gene editing; gene targeting; human therapeutic antibody discovery; magnetic-activated cell sorting.