Indexed on: 12 Feb '14Published on: 12 Feb '14Published in: Analytical Chemistry
Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are protein therapeutics in which a target specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) is conjugated with drug molecules. The manufacturing of ADCs involves additional conjugation steps, which are carried out on the parent mAbs, and it is important to evaluate how the drug conjugation process impacts the conformation and dynamics of the mAb. Here, we present a comparative study of interchain cysteine linked IgG1 ADCs and the corresponding mAb by hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS). We found that ∼90% of the primary sequence of the ADC conjugated with either monomethyl auristatin E or F (vcMMAE/mcMMAF) displayed the same HDX kinetics as the mAb, indicating the ADCs and mAbs share very similar conformation and dynamics in solution. Minor increases in HDX kinetic rates were observed in two Fc regions in the ADCs relative to the mAb which indicated that both regions become more structurally dynamic and/or more solvent-accessible in the ADCs. The findings led to a subsequent inquiry into whether the local conformational changes were due to the presence of drugs on the interchain cysteine residues or the absence of intact interchain disulfides or both. To address this question, a side-by-side HDX comparison of ADCs, mAbs, reduced mAbs (containing 8 reduced interchain cysteine thiols), and partially reduced mAbs (conjugation process intermediate) was performed. Our results indicated that the slight increase in conformational dynamics detected at the two regions in the ADCs was due to the absence of intact interchain disulfide bonds and not the presence of vcMMAE or mcMMAF on the alkylated interchain cysteine residues. These results highlight the utility of HDX-MS for interrogating the higher-order structure of ADCs and other protein therapeutics.