Structure and engineering of neutralizing antibodies to anthrax toxin
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Recombinant antibodies have increased in prominence as therapeutics and diagnostic tools since their introduction to the market in the mid-1980s. They are used to treat diverse conditions from Crohn's disease to cancer. Since the Anthrax letter attacks of 2001, a great deal of work has been carried out to develop therapeutics to this disease, and antibodies that neutralize the toxic action of Bacillus anthracis are prominent among them. This dissertation describes the elucidation of the structure of the 14B7 family of neutralizing antibodies directed at protective antigen (PA) of B. anthracis and the complex of PA domain 4 (PAD4) with an ultra-high affinity neutralizing antibody (M18), and then utilizes this information to aid in the engineering of the antibody to various ends. Chapter 2 presents the structure of the M18-PAD4 complex and of the 14B7 family of antibodies, which aids in the understanding of the affinity maturation process for this antibody family. Chapter 3 describes the affinity maturation of M18 to a PA variant by applying the knowledge gained from the complex structure. This previously intractable challenge was met by employing saturation mutagenesis in highly focused libraries to M18 directed by the complex structure to the area of variation on PA. These results indicate that this could be a generalizable method for the engineering of M18 to natural and deliberate variation of PA. Chapter 4 reports work toward the development of a reversible, photoresponsive antibody using small molecule and polymer-protein conjugates. The results indicate that a probable site on M18 was located for placement of the polymer appendage, although further work is necessary to empirically refine the properties of the photoresponsive polymer. Chapter 5 presents an unrelated project, which was to confirm the existence of a proposed RNA thermosensor in the 5' untranslated region of LcrF from the pathogenic bacterium Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague. Overall, these studies reveal the power of structure-based engineering in this antibody-antigen system. In addition, the structural elucidation of the M18-PAD4 complex and the 14B7 family of antibodies furthers our basic understanding of protein-protein interactions and the process of affinity maturation of antibodies.