Production of Soluble ScFvs with C-Terminal-Free Thiol for Site-Specific Conjugation or Stable Dimeric ScFvs on Demand

Huguette Albrecht, Patricia A. Burke, Arutselvan Natarajan, Cheng Yi Xiong, Mark Kalicinsky, Gerald L Denardo, Sally J. DeNardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


ScFv recombinant antibody fragments can provide specific tumor binding modules for targeting drugs. In the process of building multimeric tumor targeting pharmaceuticals, a prerequisite is the conservation of functional scFv antigen binding domains, thereby excluding scFv random conjugation to a carrier molecule or to another scFv. The pCANTAB 5E phage display/expression vector was genetically engineered to express any scFv gene as scFv with an additional C-terminal cysteine (scFv-Cys) such that the specific conjugation site is removed from the binding domain. Selected scFvs derived from an anti-MUC-1 scFv phage library were expressed in pCANTAB 5E and its modified version pCANTAB 5E Cys vectors, and compared for key characteristics. Production yields of scFv and scFv-Cys in shaker flask and biofermentor were compared. In the absence of a reducing agent, stable dimers (covalent scFv homodimers (scFv-Cys)2) were the major form of scFv-Cys. These diabodies provided substantial signal enhancement for immunohistochemical staining of tissues. In the presence of a reducing agent, scFv-Cys molecules remained monomeric, with the free SH available for conjugation to a PEG(maleimide)2 scaffold to form immunoreactive PEG(scFv) 2 bioconjugates. ScFv expression from pCANTAB 5E Cys allowed for the production of soluble scFv-Cys protein from E.coli, either as stable scFv-Cys or (scFv-Cys)2. ScFv-Cys can be used for conjugation to PEG to form bivalent PEG (scFv-Cys)2 molecules or used as (scFv-Cys)2 for increased sensitivity in IHC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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