Introduction of a Capillary Gel Electrophoresis-Based Workflow for Biotherapeutics Characterization: Size, Charge, and N- Glycosylation Variant Analysis of Bamlanivimab, an Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Product

Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2022 Mar 8;10:839374. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2022.839374. eCollection 2022.


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a major public health problem worldwide with 5-10% hospitalization and 2-3% global mortality rates at the time of this publication. The disease is caused by a betacoronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the Spike protein expressed on the surface of the virus plays a key role in the viral entry into the host cell via the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor. Neutralizing monoclonal antibodies having the RBD as a target have the ability to inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor binding, therefore, prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, represent a promising pharmacological strategy. Bamlanivimab is the first anti-spike neutralizing monoclonal antibody, which got an emergency use authorization from the FDA for COVID-19 treatment. Albeit, bamlanivimab is primarily a neutralizing mAb, some of its effector function related activity was also emphasized. The effector function of antibody therapeutics is greatly affected by their N-linked carbohydrates at the conserved Fc region, possibly influenced by the manufacturing process. Various capillary gel electrophoresis methods are widely accepted in the biopharmaceutical industry for the characterization of therapeutic antibodies. In this paper we introduce a capillary gel electrophoresis based workflow for 1) size heterogeneity analysis to determine the presence/absence of the non-glycosylated heavy chain (NGHC) fragment (SDS-CGE); 2) capillary gel isoelectric focusing for possible N-glycosylation mediated charge heterogeneity determination, e.g., for excess sialylation and finally, 3) capillary gel electrophoresis for N-glycosylation profiling and sequencing. Our results have shown the presence of negligible amount of non-glycosylated heavy chain (NGHC) while 25% acidic charge variants were detected. Comprehensive N-glycosylation characterization revealed the occurrence of approximately 8.2% core-afucosylated complex and 17% galactosylated N-linked oligosaccharides, suggesting the possible existence of antibody dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) effector function in addition to the generally considered neutralizing effect of this particular therapeutic antibody molecule.

Keywords: N-glycans; anti-SARS-CoV-2; bamlanivimab; capillary electrophoresis; product characterization.