Anti-Acinetobacter baumannii single-chain variable fragments show direct bactericidal activity

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Mycobacteriology and Pulmonary Research, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran

2 Microbiology Research Center, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran

3 Chemical Injuries Research Center, Systems Biology and Poisoning Institute, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

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

6 Molecular Medicine Department, Biotechnology Research Center, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran

7 Department of Immunology, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran


Objective(s): The high resistance rate of Acinetobacter baumannii and the limited number of available antibiotics have prompted a worldwide effort to develop effective antimicrobial agents. Accordingly, identifying single-chain variable fragment antibodies (scFvs), capable of exerting direct antibacterial activity in an immune system-independent manner, may be making immunocompromised patients more susceptible to A. baumannii infections.
Materials and Methods: To isolate bactericidal scFvs targeting A. baumannii, we panned a large human scFv phage display library against whole-cell extensively drug-resistant (XDR) A. baumannii strains grown as biofilm or cultured with human blood or human peripheral blood mononuclear cells plus plasma. The binding of scFv-phages to A. baumannii was assessed by the dot-blot assay. Soluble scFvs, derived from the selected phages, were assessed based on their ability to bind and inhibit the growth of A. baumannii. 
Results: Five phage clones showed the highest reactivity toward A. baumannii. Among five soluble scFvs, derived from positive phage clones, two scFvs, EB211 and EB279, had high expression yields and displayed strong binding to A. baumannii compared with the controls. Moreover, XDR A. baumannii strains treated with positively-charged scFvs, including EB211, EB279, or a cocktail of EB211 and EB279 (200 µg/ml), displayed lower viability (approximately 50%, 78%, and 40% viability, respectively) compared with PBS-treated bacteria.
Conclusion: These results suggest that combining last-resort antibiotics with bactericidal scFvs could provide promising outcomes in immunocompromised individuals with A. baumannii infections.


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