Developing and characterizing a single-domain antibody (nanobody) against human cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (hCTLA-4)

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 National Cell Bank of Iran, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran

3 Biotechnology Research Center, Venom and Biotherapeutics Molecules Laboratory, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran

4 Zoonoses Research Center, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Amol, Iran


Objective(s): Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein-4 (CTLA-4) is the most important human immune checkpoint that modulates T cells activity and brings about immune-homeostasis. Accordingly, checkpoint inhibitor cancer therapy has been approved as a growing method to block over-expressed immune checkpoints, such as CTLA-4 receptors. Considering the competitive characteristics of single-domain antibodies with monoclonal antibodies, we tried to develop a camelid Nanobody against human CTLA-4.
Materials and Methods: We have constructed the VHH gene library by using immunized-camel peripheral blood mononuclear cells and carrying out the Nested-PCR technique. VHH-library was screened by phage display technique and specific nanobodies against CTLA-4 protein were selected and amplified with bio-panning steps. Stronger binders were screened by Periplasmic Extract-ELISA, followed by estimating the complexity of the library. Specific anti-CTLA-4 Nanobody and 3hCTL55, with longer CDR3 and a higher binding rate, were selected for more assays.
Results: Results revealed the existence of two different clones in the library with 108 binders. In comparison with seven different antigens, using the ELISA technique confirmed the specificity of Nanobody 3hCTL55 against human CTLA-4 antigen. We calculated Nanobody 3hCTL55 affinity for human CTLA-4 antigen at 50×10-9 M, approximately. Performing western blot and Flow-cytometry techniques showed that Nanobody 3hCTL55 was able to specifically detect and attach both commercial human CTLA-4 protein and human CTLA-4 antigen on the cell surface and in the cell lysate.
Conclusion: Taken together, this developed camelid-specific anti-CTLA-4 Nanobody 3hCTL55, selected from a high-quality immune library by phage display technique, may be effective for further study about cancer diagnosis and cancer-therapy purposes.


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