Short FcRn-Binding Peptides Enable Salvage and Transcytosis of scFv Antibody Fragments

Vince W. Kelly, Shannon J. Sirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Therapeutic antibodies have become one of the most widely used classes of biotherapeutics due to their unique antigen specificity and their ability to be engineered against diverse disease targets. There is significant interest in utilizing truncated antibody fragments as therapeutics, as their small size affords favorable properties such as increased tumor penetration as well as the ability to utilize lower-cost prokaryotic production methods. Their small size and simple architecture, however, also lead to rapid blood clearance, limiting the efficacy of these potentially powerful therapeutics. A common approach to circumvent these limitations is to enable engagement with the half-life extending neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn). This is usually achieved via fusion with a large Fc domain, which negates the benefits of the antibody fragment’s small size. In this work, we show that modifying antibody fragments with short FcRn-binding peptide domains that mimic native IgG engagement with FcRn enables binding and FcRn-mediated recycling and transmembrane transcytosis in cell-based assays. Further, we show that rational, single amino acid mutations to the peptide sequence have a significant impact on the receptor-mediated function and investigate the underlying structural basis for this effect using computational modeling. Finally, we report the identification of a short peptide from human serum albumin that enables FcRn-mediated function when grafted onto a single-chain variable fragment (scFv) scaffold, establishing an approach for the rational selection of short-peptide domains from full-length proteins that could enable the transfer of non-native functions to small recombinant proteins without significantly impacting their size or structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-413
Number of pages10
JournalACS chemical biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 18 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry


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