R.S. Salvat, A.S. Parker, A. Guilliams, Y. Choi, C. Bailey-Kellogg, and K.E. Griswold, "Computationally driven deletion of broadly distributed T cell epitopes in a biotherapeutic candidate", Cell. Mol. Life Sci., 2014, 71:4869-4880. [pubmed]

Biotherapeutics are subject to immune surveillance within the body, and anti-biotherapeutic immune responses can compromise drug efficacy and patient safety. Initial development of targeted antidrug immune memory is coordinated by T cell recognition of immunogenic subsequences, termed "T cell epitopes." Biotherapeutics may therefore be deimmunized by mutating key residues within cognate epitopes, but there exist complex trade-offs between immunogenicity, mutational load, and protein structure-function. Here, a protein deimmunization algorithm has been applied to P99 beta-lactamase, a component of antibody-directed enzyme prodrug therapies. The algorithm, integer programming for immunogenic proteins, seamlessly integrates computational prediction of T cell epitopes with both 1- and 2-body sequence potentials that assess protein tolerance to epitope-deleting mutations. Compared to previously deimmunized P99 variants, which bore only one or two mutations, the enzymes designed here contain 4-5 widely distributed substitutions. As a result, they exhibit broad reductions in major histocompatibility complex recognition. Despite their high mutational loads and markedly reduced immunoreactivity, all eight engineered variants possessed wild-type or better catalytic activity. Thus, the protein design algorithm is able to disrupt broadly distributed epitopes while maintaining protein function. As a result, this computational tool may prove useful in expanding the repertoire of next-generation biotherapeutics.