Computational de novo design of antibodies binding to a peptide with high affinity

Venkata Giridhar Poosarla, Tong Li, Boon Chong Goh, Klaus Schulten, Thomas K. Wood, Costas D. Maranas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Antibody drugs play a critical role in infectious diseases, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and inflammation. However, experimental methods for the generation of therapeutic antibodies such as using immunized mice or directed evolution remain time consuming and cannot target a specific antigen epitope. Here, we describe the application of a computational framework called OptMAVEn combined with molecular dynamics to de novo design antibodies. Our reference system is antibody 2D10, a single-chain antibody (scFv) that recognizes the dodecapeptide DVFYPYPYASGS, a peptide mimic of mannose-containing carbohydrates. Five de novo designed scFvs sharing less than 75% sequence similarity to all existing natural antibody sequences were generated using OptMAVEn and their binding to the dodecapeptide was experimentally characterized by biolayer interferometry and isothermal titration calorimetry. Among them, three scFvs show binding affinity to the dodecapeptide at the nM level. Critically, these de novo designed scFvs exhibit considerably diverse modeled binding modes with the dodecapeptide. The results demonstrate the potential of OptMAVEn for the de novo design of thermally and conformationally stable antibodies with high binding affinity to antigens and encourage the targeting of other antigen targets in the future. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;114: 1331–1342.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1342
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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