The reactivity of phosphonate ester probes with several available proteolytic antibody (Ab) fragments was characterized. Irreversible, active site-directed inhibition of the peptidase activity was evident. Stable phosphonate diester-Ab adducts were resolved by column chromatography and denaturing electrophoresis. Biotinylated phosphonate esters were applied for chemical capture of phage particles displaying Fv and light chain repertoires. Selected Ab fragments displayed enriched catalytic activity inhibitable by the selection reagent. Somewhat unexpectedly, a phosphonate monoester also formed stable adducts with the Abs. Improved catalytic activity of phage Abs selected by monoester binding was evident. Turnover values (kcat) for a selected Fv construct and a light chain against their preferred model peptide substrates were 0.5 and 0.2 min-1, respectively, and the corresponding Michaelis-Menten constants (Km) were 10 and 8 μM. The covalent reactivity of Abs with phosphonate esters suggests their ability to recapitulate the catalytic mechanism utilized by classical serine proteases.
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