Fine Epitope Mapping of the CD19 Extracellular Domain Promotes Design.
AbstractThe B-cell surface protein CD19 is present throughout the cell life cycle and is uniformly expressed in leukemias, making it a target for chimeric antigen receptor engineered immune cell therapy. Identifying the sequence dependence of the binding of CD19 to antibodies empowers fundamental study and more tailored development of CD19-targeted therapeutics. To identify the antibody-binding epitopes on CD19, we screened a comprehensive single-site saturation mutation library of the human CD19 extracellular domain to identify mutations detrimental to binding FMC63-the dominant CD19 antibody used in chimeric antigen receptor development-as well as 4G7-2E3 and 3B10, which have been used in various types of CD19 research and development. All three antibodies had partially overlapping, yet distinct, epitopes near the published epitope of antibody B43. The FMC63 conformational epitope spans spatially adjacent, but genetically distant, loops in exons 3 and 4. The 3B10 epitope is a linear peptide sequence that binds CD19 with 440 pM affinity. Along with their primary goal of epitope mapping, the mutational tolerance data also empowered additional CD19 variant design and analysis. A designed CD19 variant with all N-linked glycosylation sites removed successfully bound antibody in the yeast display context, which provides a lead for aglycosylated applications. Screening for thermally stable variants identified mutations to guide further CD19 stabilization for fusion protein applications and revealed evolutionary affinity-stability trade-offs. These fundamental insights into CD19 sequence-function relationships enhance our understanding of antibody-mediated CD19-targeted therapeutics.