All Publications

  • A derivative of the D5 monoclonal antibody that targets the gp41 N-heptad repeat of HIV-1 with broad tier-2 neutralizing activity. Journal of virology Rubio, A. A., Filsinger Interrante, M. V., Bell, B. N., Brown, C. L., Bruun, T. U., LaBranche, C. C., Montefiori, D. C., Kim, P. S. 2021


    HIV-1 infection is initiated by the viral glycoprotein Env, which, after interaction with cellular coreceptors, adopts a transient conformation known as the pre-hairpin intermediate (PHI). The N-heptad repeat (NHR) is a highly conserved region of gp41 exposed in the PHI; it is the target of the FDA-approved drug enfuvirtide and of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). However, to date these mAbs have only been weakly effective against tier-1 HIV-1 strains, which are most sensitive to neutralizing antibodies. Here, we engineered and tested 11 IgG variants of D5, an anti-NHR mAb, by recombining previously described mutations in four of D5's six antibody complementarity-determining regions. One variant, D5_AR, demonstrated 6-fold enhancement in ID50 against lentivirus pseudotyped with HXB2 Env. D5_AR exhibited weak cross-clade neutralizing activity against a diverse set of tier-2 HIV-1 viruses, which are less sensitive to neutralizing antibodies than tier-1 viruses and are the target of current antibody-based vaccine efforts. In addition, the neutralization potency of D5_AR IgG was greatly enhanced in target cells expressing FcgammaRI, with ID50 values below 0.1 mug/mL; this immunoglobulin receptor is expressed on macrophages and dendritic cells, which are implicated in the early stages of HIV-1 infection of mucosal surfaces. D5 and D5_AR have equivalent neutralization potency in IgG, Fab, and scFv formats, indicating that neutralization is not impacted by steric hindrance. Taken together, these results provide support for vaccine strategies that target the PHI by eliciting antibodies against the gp41 NHR and support investigation of anti-NHR mAbs in non-human primate passive immunization studies.ImportanceDespite advances in anti-retroviral therapy, HIV remains a global epidemic and has claimed more than 32 million lives. Accordingly, developing an effective HIV vaccine remains an urgent public health need. The gp41 N-heptad repeat (NHR) of the HIV-1 pre-hairpin intermediate (PHI) is highly conserved (>90%) and is inhibited by the FDA-approved drug enfuvirtide, making it an attractive vaccine target. However, to date anti-NHR antibodies have not been potent. Here, we engineered D5_AR, a more potent variant of the anti-NHR antibody D5, and established its ability to inhibit HIV-1 strains that are more difficult to neutralize and are more representative of circulating strains (tier-2 strains). The neutralizing activity of D5_AR was greatly potentiated in cells expressing FcgammaRI; FcgammaRI is expressed on cells that are implicated at the earliest stages of sexual HIV-1 transmission. Taken together, these results bolster efforts to target the gp41 NHR and the PHI for vaccine development.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.02350-20

    View details for PubMedID 33980592

  • The high-affinity immunoglobulin receptor FcgammaRI potentiates HIV-1 neutralization via antibodies against the gp41 N-heptad repeat. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Montefiori, D. C., Filsinger Interrante, M. V., Bell, B. N., Rubio, A. A., Joyce, J. G., Shiver, J. W., LaBranche, C. C., Kim, P. S. 2021; 118 (3)


    The HIV-1 gp41 N-heptad repeat (NHR) region of the prehairpin intermediate, which is transiently exposed during HIV-1 viral membrane fusion, is a validated clinical target in humans and is inhibited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug enfuvirtide. However, vaccine candidates targeting the NHR have yielded only modest neutralization activities in animals; this inhibition has been largely restricted to tier-1 viruses, which are most sensitive to neutralization by sera from HIV-1-infected individuals. Here, we show that the neutralization activity of the well-characterized NHR-targeting antibody D5 is potentiated >5,000-fold in TZM-bl cells expressing FcgammaRI compared with those without, resulting in neutralization of many tier-2 viruses (which are less susceptible to neutralization by sera from HIV-1-infected individuals and are the target of current antibody-based vaccine efforts). Further, antisera from guinea pigs immunized with the NHR-based vaccine candidate (ccIZN36)3 neutralized tier-2 viruses from multiple clades in an FcgammaRI-dependent manner. As FcgammaRI is expressed on macrophages and dendritic cells, which are present at mucosal surfaces and are implicated in the early establishment of HIV-1 infection following sexual transmission, these results may be important in the development of a prophylactic HIV-1 vaccine.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2018027118

    View details for PubMedID 33431684

  • Dual display of proteins on the yeast cell surface simplifies quantification of binding interactions and enzymatic bioconjugation reactions BIOTECHNOLOGY JOURNAL Lim, S., Glasgow, J. E., Interrante, M. F., Storm, E. M., Cochran, J. R. 2017; 12 (5)


    Yeast surface display, a well-established technology for protein analysis and engineering, involves expressing a protein of interest as a genetic fusion to either the N- or C-terminus of the yeast Aga2p mating protein. Historically, yeast-displayed protein variants are flanked by peptide epitope tags that enable flow cytometric measurement of construct expression using fluorescent primary or secondary antibodies. Here, we built upon this technology to develop a new yeast display strategy that comprises fusion of two different proteins to Aga2p, one to the N-terminus and one to the C-terminus. This approach allows an antibody fragment, ligand, or receptor to be directly coupled to expression of a fluorescent protein readout, eliminating the need for antibody-staining of epitope tags to quantify yeast protein expression levels. We show that this system simplifies quantification of protein-protein binding interactions measured on the yeast cell surface. Moreover, we show that this system facilitates co-expression of a bioconjugation enzyme and its corresponding peptide substrate on the same Aga2p construct, enabling enzyme expression and catalytic activity to be measured on the surface of yeast.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/biot.201600696

    View details for Web of Science ID 000400613400008

    View details for PubMedID 28299901

  • Emerging Strategies for Developing Next-Generation Protein Therapeutics for Cancer Treatment TRENDS IN PHARMACOLOGICAL SCIENCES Kintzing, J. R., Interrante, M. V., Cochrane, J. R. 2016; 37 (12): 993-1008


    Protein-based therapeutics have been revolutionizing the oncology space since they first appeared in the clinic two decades ago. Unlike traditional small-molecule chemotherapeutics, protein biologics promote active targeting of cancer cells by binding to cell-surface receptors and other markers specifically associated with or overexpressed on tumors versus healthy tissue. While the first approved cancer biologics were monoclonal antibodies, the burgeoning field of protein engineering is spawning research on an expanded range of protein formats and modifications that allow tuning of properties such as target-binding affinity, serum half-life, stability, and immunogenicity. In this review we highlight some of these strategies and provide examples of modified and engineered proteins under development as preclinical and clinical-stage drug candidates for the treatment of cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/

    View details for Web of Science ID 000389393400003

    View details for PubMedID 27836202

  • Targeted Drug Delivery with an Integrin-Binding Knottin-Fc-MMAF Conjugate Produced by Cell-Free Protein Synthesis. Molecular cancer therapeutics Currier, N. V., Ackerman, S. E., Kintzing, J. R., Chen, R., Filsinger Interrante, M., Steiner, A., Sato, A. K., Cochran, J. R. 2016; 15 (6): 1291-1300


    Antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) have generated significant interest as targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment, demonstrating improved clinical efficacy and safety compared with systemic chemotherapy. To extend this concept to other tumor-targeting proteins, we conjugated the tubulin inhibitor monomethyl-auristatin-F (MMAF) to 2.5F-Fc, a fusion protein composed of a human Fc domain and a cystine knot (knottin) miniprotein engineered to bind with high affinity to tumor-associated integrin receptors. The broad expression of integrins (including αvβ3, αvβ5, and α5β1) on tumor cells and their vasculature makes 2.5F-Fc an attractive tumor-targeting protein for drug delivery. We show that 2.5F-Fc can be expressed by cell-free protein synthesis, during which a non-natural amino acid was introduced into the Fc domain and subsequently used for site-specific conjugation of MMAF through a noncleavable linker. The resulting knottin-Fc-drug conjugate (KFDC), termed 2.5F-Fc-MMAF, had approximately 2 drugs attached per KFDC. 2.5F-Fc-MMAF inhibited proliferation in human glioblastoma (U87MG), ovarian (A2780), and breast (MB-468) cancer cells to a greater extent than 2.5F-Fc or MMAF alone or added in combination. As a single agent, 2.5F-Fc-MMAF was effective at inducing regression and prolonged survival in U87MG tumor xenograft models when administered at 10 mg/kg two times per week. In comparison, tumors treated with 2.5F-Fc or MMAF were nonresponsive, and treatment with a nontargeted control, CTRL-Fc-MMAF, showed a modest but not significant therapeutic effect. These studies provide proof-of-concept for further development of KFDCs as alternatives to ADCs for tumor targeting and drug delivery applications. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(6); 1291-300. ©2016 AACR.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-15-0881

    View details for PubMedID 27197305

  • Complete biosynthesis of opioids in yeast. Science Galanie, S., Thodey, K., Trenchard, I. J., Filsinger Interrante, M., Smolke, C. D. 2015; 349 (6252): 1095-1100


    Opioids are the primary drugs used in Western medicine for pain management and palliative care. Farming of opium poppies remains the sole source of these essential medicines, despite diverse market demands and uncertainty in crop yields due to weather, climate change, and pests. We engineered yeast to produce the selected opioid compounds thebaine and hydrocodone starting from sugar. All work was conducted in a laboratory that is permitted and secured for work with controlled substances. We combined enzyme discovery, enzyme engineering, and pathway and strain optimization to realize full opiate biosynthesis in yeast. The resulting opioid biosynthesis strains required the expression of 21 (thebaine) and 23 (hydrocodone) enzyme activities from plants, mammals, bacteria, and yeast itself. This is a proof of principle, and major hurdles remain before optimization and scale-up could be achieved. Open discussions of options for governing this technology are also needed in order to responsibly realize alternative supplies for these medically relevant compounds.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aac9373

    View details for PubMedID 26272907

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4924617