The plant protein production system is a platform that can not only reduce production costs but also produce monoclonal antibodies that do not have the risk of residual proteins from the host. However, due to the difference between post-translational processes in plants and animals, there may be a modification in the Fab region of the monoclonal antibody produced in the plant; thus, it is necessary to compare the antigen affinity of this antibody with that of the prototype. In this study, ofatumumab, a fully human anti-CD20 IgG1κ monoclonal antibody used for its non-cross resistance to rituximab, was expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana, and its affinities and efficacies were compared with those of native ofatumumab produced from CHO cells. Two forms of plant ofatumumab (with or without HDEL-tag) were generated and their production yields were compared. The HDEL-tagged ofatumumab was more expressed in plants than the form without HDEL-tag. The specificity of the target recognition of plant-derived ofatumumab was confirmed by mCherry-CD20-expressing HEK cells via immuno-staining, and the capping of CD20 after ofatumumab binding was also confirmed using Ramos B cells. In the functional equivalence tests, the binding affinities and complement-dependent cell cytotoxicity efficacy of plant-ofatumumab-HDEL and plant-ofatumumab without HDEL were significantly reduced compared to those of CHO-derived ofatumumab. Therefore, we suggest that although ofatumumab is not a good candidate as a template for plant-derived monoclonal antibodies because of its decreased affinity when produced in plants, it is an interesting target to study the differences between post-translational modifications in mammals and plants.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education , Project Number 2018R1A6A1A03025607 to W.T.K. and NRF - 2018R1A2B4010319 to J.Y.K. This work was also supported by a faculty research grant from the Yonsei University College of Medicine ( 6-2018-0070 ) for J. Y K.
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