Improved GPCR ligands from nanobody tethering
Cheloha RW., Fischer FA., Woodham AW., Daley E., Suminski N., Gardella TJ., Ploegh HL.
AbstractAntibodies conjugated to bioactive compounds allow targeted delivery of therapeutics to cell types of choice based on that antibody’s specificity. Here we develop a new type of conjugate that consists of a nanobody and a peptidic ligand for a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), fused via their C-termini. We address activation of parathyroid hormone receptor-1 (PTHR1) and improve the signaling activity and specificity of otherwise poorly active N-terminal peptide fragments of PTH by conjugating them to nanobodies (VHHs) that recognize PTHR1. These C-to-C conjugates show biological activity superior to that of the parent fragment peptide in vitro. In an exploratory experiment in mice, a VHH-PTH peptide conjugate showed biological activity, whereas the corresponding free peptide did not. The lead conjugate also possesses selectivity for PTHR1 superior to that of PTH(1-34). This design approach, dubbed “conjugation of ligands and antibodies for membrane proteins” (CLAMP), can yield ligands with high potency and specificity.