Activated Cross-linked Agarose for the Rapid Development of Affinity Chromatography Resins - Antibody Capture as a Case Study
The purification of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) is commonly achieved by Protein A affinity chromatography, which can account for up to 25% of the overall process costs. Alternative, cost-effective capture steps are therefore valuable for industrial-scale manufacturing, where large quantities of a single mAb are produced. Here we present a method for the immobilization of a DsRed-based epitope ligand to a cross-linked agarose resin allowing the selective capture of the HIV-neutralizing antibody 2F5 from crude plant extracts without using Protein A. The linear epitope ELDKWA was first genetically fused to the fluorescent protein DsRed and the fusion protein was expressed in transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants before purification by immobilized metal-ion affinity chromatography. Furthermore, a method based on activated cross-linked agarose was optimized for high ligand density, efficient coupling and low costs. The pH and buffer composition and the soluble ligand concentration were the most important parameters during the coupling procedure, which was improved using a design-of-experiments approach. The resulting affinity resin was tested for its ability to selectively bind the target mAb in a crude plant extract and the elution buffer was optimized for high mAb recovery, product activity and affinity resin stability. The method can easily be adapted to other antibodies with linear epitopes. The new resins allow gentler elution conditions than Protein A and could also reduce the costs of an initial capture step for mAb production.