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  • 1.
    Lindgren, Joel
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    Chemical Engineering of Small Affinity Proteins2014Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Small robust affinity proteins have shown great potential for use in therapy, in vivo diagnostics, and various biotechnological applications. However, the affinity proteins often need to be modified or functionalized to be successful in many of these applications. The use of chemical synthesis for the production of the proteins can allow for site-directed functionalization not achievable by recombinant routes, including incorporation of unnatural building blocks. This thesis focuses on chemical engineering of Affibody molecules and an albumin binding domain (ABD), which both are three-helix bundle proteins of 58 and 46 amino acids, respectively, possible to synthesize using solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS).

    In the first project, an alternative synthetic route for Affibody molecules using a fragment condensation approach was investigated. This was achieved by using native chemical ligation (NCL) for the condensation reaction, yielding a native peptide bond at the site of ligation. The constant third helix of Affibody molecules enables a combinatorial approach for the preparation of a panel of different Affibody molecules, demonstrated by the synthesis of three different Affibody molecules using the same helix 3 (paper I).

    In the next two projects, an Affibody molecule targeting the amyloid-beta peptide, involved in Alzheimer’s disease, was engineered. Initially the N-terminus of the Affibody molecule was shortened resulting in a considerably higher synthetic yield and higher binding affinity to the target peptide (paper II). This improved variant of the Affibody molecule was then further engineered in the next project, where a fluorescently silent variant was developed and successfully used as a tool to lock the amyloid-beta peptide in a β-hairpin conformation during studies of copper binding using fluorescence spectroscopy (paper III).

    In the last two projects, synthetic variants of ABD, interesting for use as in vivo half-life extending partners to therapeutic proteins, were engineered. In the first project the possibility to covalently link a bioactive peptide, GLP-1, to the domain was investigated. This was achieved by site-specific thioether bridge-mediated cross-linking of the molecules via a polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based spacer. The conjugate showed retained high binding affinity to human serum albumin (HSA) and a biological activity comparable to a reference GLP-1 peptide (paper IV). In the last project, the possibility to increase the proteolytic stability of ABD through intramolecular cross-linking, to facilitate its use in e.g. oral drug delivery applications, was investigated. A tethered variant of ABD showed increased thermal stability and a considerably higher proteolytic stability towards pepsin, trypsin and chymotrypsin, three important proteases found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (paper V).

    Taken together, the work presented in this thesis illustrates the potential of using chemical synthesis approaches in protein engineering.

  • 2.
    Lindgren, Joel
    et al.
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    Eriksson Karlström, Amelie
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    Intramolecular thioether cross-linking of therapeutic proteins to increase proteolytic stability2014In: ChemBioChem (Print), ISSN 1439-4227, E-ISSN 1439-7633, Vol. 15, no 14, p. 2132-2138Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Protein-based pharmaceuticals typically display high selectivity and low toxicity, but are also characterized by low oral availability, mainly because of enzymatic degradation in the gastrointestinal tract and poor permeability across the intestinal wall. One way to increase the proteolytic stability of peptides and proteins is by intramolecular crosslinking, such as the introduction of disulfide bridges. However, disulfide bridges are at risk of thiol-disulfide exchange or reduction during production, purification, and/or therapeutic use, whereas thioether bridges are expected to be stable under the same conditions. In this study, thioether crosslinking was investigated for a 46 aa albumin-binding domain (ABD) derived from streptococcal protein G. ABD binds with high affinity to human serum albumin (HSA) and has been proposed as a fusion partner to increase the in vivo half-lives of therapeutic proteins. In the study, five ABD variants with single or double intramolecular thioether bridges were designed and synthesized. The binding affinity, secondary structure, and thermal stability of each protein was investigated by SPR-based biosensor analysis and CD spectroscopy. The proteolytic stability in the presence of the major intestinal proteases pepsin (found in the stomach) and trypsin in combination with chymotrypsin (found in pancreatin secreted to the duodenum by the pancreas) was also investigated. The most promising crosslinked variant, ABD_CL1, showed high thermal stability, retained high affinity in binding to HSA, and showed dramatically increased stability in the presence of pepsin and trypsin/chymotrypsin, compared to the ABD reference protein. This suggests that the intramolecular thioether crosslinking strategy can be used to increase the stability towards gastrointestinal enzymes.

  • 3.
    Lindgren, Joel
    et al.
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    Refai, Essam
    Zaitsev, Sergei
    Abrahmsén, Lars
    Berggren, Per-Olof
    Eriksson Karlström, Amelie
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    A GLP-1 receptor agonist conjugated to an albumin-binding domain for extended half-life2014In: Biopolymers, ISSN 0006-3525, E-ISSN 1097-0282, Vol. 102, no 3, p. 252-259Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and related peptide agonists have been extensively investigated for glycaemic control in Type 2 diabetes, and may also have therapeutic applications for other diseases. Due to the short half-life (t1/2<2 min) of the endogenous peptide, caused by proteolytic degradation and renal clearance, different strategies for half-life extension and sustained release have been explored. In the present study, conjugates between a GLP-1 analogue and a 5 kDa albumin-binding domain (ABD) derived from streptococcal protein G have been chemically synthesized and evaluated. ABD binds with high affinity to human serum albumin, which is highly abundant in plasma and functions as a drug carrier in the circulation. Three different GLP-1-ABD conjugates, with the two peptides connected by linkers of two, four, and six PEG units, respectively, were synthesized and tested in mouse pancreatic islets at high (11 mM) and low (3 mM) glucose concentration. Insulin release upon stimulation was shown to be glucose-dependent, showing no significant difference between the three different GLP-1-ABD conjugates and unconjugated GLP-1 analogue. The biological activity, in combination with the high affinity binding to albumin, make the GLP-1-ABD conjugates promising GLP-1 receptor agonists expected to show extended in vivo half-life.

  • 4.
    Nilsson, Anders
    et al.
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    Lindgren, Joel
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    Eriksson Karlström, Amelie
    KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.
    Intramolecular Thioether Crosslinking to Increase the Proteolytic Stability of Affibody Molecules2017In: ChemBioChem (Print), ISSN 1439-4227, E-ISSN 1439-7633, Vol. 18, no 20, p. 2056-2062Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Protein therapeutics suffer from low oral bioavailability, mainly due to poor membrane permeability and digestion by gastrointestinal proteases. To improve proteolytic stability, intramolecular thioether crosslinks were introduced into a three-helix affibody molecule binding the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Solid-phase peptide synthesis was used to produce an unmodified control protein domain and three different crosslinked protein domain variants: one with a thioether crosslink between the N-terminal lysine residue and a cysteine residue in the second loop region (denoted K4), a second with a crosslink between the C-terminal lysine residue and a cysteine residue in the first loop region (denoted K58), and a third with crosslinks in both positions (denoted K4K58). Circular dichroism (CD) and surface-plasmon-resonance-based (SPR-based) biosensor studies of the protein domains showed that the three-helix structure and high-affinity binding to EGFR were preserved in the crosslinked protein domains. In vitro digestion by gastrointestinal proteases demonstrated that the crosslinked protein domains showed increased stability towards pepsin and towards a combination of trypsin and chymotrypsin.

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