Antibody Molecules, Genetic Engineering of
advantage in certain applications such
as tumor targeting for detection and/or
therapeutic purposes. In fact, scFv frag-
ments display a combination of rapid,
high-level tumor targeting with concomi-
tant clearance from normal tissues and
circulation that have made radiolabeled
scFvs important tools for detection and
treatment of cancer metastasis in both pre-
clinical models and patients. An example
of a successful scFv in the clinic is MFE-23.
This scFv is speci±c for carcinoembry-
onic antigen (CEA), a glycoprotein that is
highly expressed in colorectal adenocarci-
nomas. MFE-23, expressed in bacteria, has
been used in two clinical trials: a gamma
camera imaging trial using
and a radioimmunoguided surgery trial
I-MFE-23, in which tumor de-
posits are detected by a handheld probe
during surgery. Both trials showed that
MFE-23 is safe and effective in localizing
tumor deposits in patients with cancer.
Despite their successful use in some
tumor-targeting studies, a signi±cant lim-
itation of using scFvs for targeting
in vivo
is their monovalent binding to antigen.
Intact antibodies have signi±cant avidity
as a result of the presence of two antigen
binding sites. To address this problem, an-
tibody engineers have used the monomeric
scFv as a building block for larger engi-
neered fragments. One approach consists
of producing dimers of scFv by incorpo-
rating a carboxy-terminal cysteine residue
so that a disul±de bridge forms, yielding
fragments. Alternately, the single-
chain concept has been extended by using
an additional linker peptide to join the two
scFv molecules in tandem. Another ap-
proach for the production of scFv dimers
results from the observation that the use of
a very short linker peptide to connect the
antibody variable regions caused the for-
mation of ‘‘cross-paired’’ dimers, in which
the V
of one molecule associates with the
of a second and the V
of the second
molecule associates with the V
of the
±rst (Fig. 6). These noncovalent dimers,
also known as
valent binding to antigen. scFv dimers and
diabodies have a molecular weight simi-
lar to that of the antibody Fab fragments
(55–60 kDa) but contain two antigen bind-
ing sites. Diabodies show signi±cant im-
provement in tumor targeting compared
to monovalent scFv. scFv fragments can
also be fused to an immunoglobulin C
domain, resulting in a self-assembling bi-
valent ‘‘minibody’’ (Fig. 6).
To further increase the avidity of anti-
body fragments, several laboratories have
generated fragments with an increased va-
lence. One strategy to develop fragments
with increased valence has been to ex-
tend the diabody approach by decreasing
the length of the interdomain linker pep-
tide, which may result in the formation
of tribodies and tetrabodies. It is also
possible to obtain larger bivalent or multi-
valent fragments by fusing scFvs to protein
domains normally involved in protein as-
sociation such as helix bundles or leucine
zippers. An alternative approach for pro-
ducing multivalent fragments has been
the fusion of scFvs to the bacterial pro-
tein streptavidin. Since streptavidin is a
tetramer composed of four noncovalently
linked monomers, four scFvs assemble
to form a tetrameric structure with four
antigen binding sites. A practical example
of this technology was the development
of Rh-speci±c scFv fused to streptavidin.
This fusion protein named scFv::strep was
able to directly agglutinate antigen-positive
red blood cells (a reaction that is impos-
sible to achieve by using antigen-speci±c
monomeric scFv or IgG), suggesting the
potential use of scFv::strep as a blood-
typing reagent.
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