Computational affinity maturation of camelid single-domain intrabodies against the nonamyloid component of alpha-synuclein

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Mahajan S. P., Meksiriporn B., Waraho-Zhmayev D., Weyant K. B., Kocer İ., Butler D. C., ...More

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, vol.8, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41598-018-35464-7
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Improving the affinity of protein-protein interactions is a challenging problem that is particularly important in the development of antibodies for diagnostic and clinical use. Here, we used structure-based computational methods to optimize the binding affinity of V(H)NAC1, a single-domain intracellular antibody (intrabody) from the camelid family that was selected for its specific binding to the nonamyloid component (NAC) of human alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn), a natively disordered protein, implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) and related neurological disorders. Specifically, we performed ab initio modeling that revealed several possible modes of V(H)NAC1 binding to the NAC region of alpha-syn as well as mutations that potentially enhance the affinity between these interacting proteins. While our initial design strategy did not lead to improved affinity, it ultimately guided us towards a model that aligned more closely with experimental observations, revealing a key residue on the paratope and the participation of H4 loop residues in binding, as well as confirming the importance of electrostatic interactions. The binding activity of the best intrabody mutant, which involved just a single amino acid mutation compared to parental V(H)NAC1, was significantly enhanced primarily through a large increase in association rate. Our results indicate that structure-based computational design can be used to successfully improve the affinity of antibodies against natively disordered and weakly immunogenic antigens such as alpha-syn, even in cases such as ours where crystal structures are unavailable.