pH-Dependent Binding Engineering Reveals An FcRn Affinity Threshold Which Governs IgG Recycling [Metabolism]

December 23rd, 2014 by Borrok, M. J., Wu, Y., Beyaz, N., Yu, X.-Q., Oganesyan, V., Dall'Acqua, W. F., Tsui, P.

The Fc domain of IgG has been the target of multiple mutational studies aimed at altering the pH-dependent IgG/FcRn interaction to modulate IgG pharmacokinetics. These studies have yielded antibody variants with disparate pharmacokinetic characteristics, ranging from extended in vivo half-life to those exhibiting extremely rapid clearance. To better understand pH-dependent binding parameters that govern these outcomes and limit FcRn-mediated half-life extension, we generated a panel of novel Fc variants with high affinity binding at acidic pH that vary in pH 7.4 affinities and assessed pharmacokinetic outcomes. Pharmacokinetic studies in human FcRn transgenic mice and cynomolgus monkeys showed that multiple variants with increased FcRn affinities at acidic pH exhibited extended serum half-lives relative to the parental IgG. Importantly, the results reveal an underappreciated affinity threshold of neutral pH binding which determines IgG recycling efficiency. Variants with pH 7.4 FcRn affinities below this threshold recycle efficiently and can exhibit increased serum persistence. Increasing neutral pH FcRn affinity beyond this threshold reduced serum persistence by offsetting the benefits of increased pH 6.0 binding. Ultra-high affinity binding to FcRn at both acidic and neutral pH leads to rapid serum clearance.