Journal Article
. 2021 Nov; 22(21):.
doi: 10.3390/ijms222111302.

Simultaneous Inhibition of PD-1 and Stimulation of CD40 Signaling Pathways by Anti-PD-L1/CD40L Bispecific Fusion Protein Synergistically Activate Target and Effector Cells

Madhu S Pandey 1 Chunlei Wang 2 Scott Umlauf 1 Shihua Lin 1 
  • PMID: 34768776
  •     31 References


Bispecific antibodies (BsAbs) or fusion proteins (BsAbFPs) present a promising strategy for cancer immunotherapy. Numerous BsAbs targeting coinhibitory and costimulatory pathways have been developed for retargeting T cells and antigen presenting cells (APCs). It is challenging to assess the potency of BsAb that engages two different signaling pathways simultaneously in a single assay format, especially when the two antigen targets are expressed on different cells. To explore the potency of anti-PD-L1/CD40L BsAbFP, a fusion protein that binds to human CD40 and PD-L1, we engineered CHO cells as surrogate APCs that express T cell receptor activator and PD-L1, Jurkat cells with PD-1 and NFAT-luciferase reporter as effector T cells, and Raji cell with NFkB-luciferase that endogenously expresses CD40 as accessory B cells. A novel reporter gene bioassay was developed using these cell lines that allows anti-PD-L1/CD40L BsAbFP to engages both PD-1/PD-L1 and CD40/CD40L signaling pathways in one assay. As both reporters use firefly luciferase, the effects of activating both signaling pathways is observed as an increase in luminescence, either as a higher upper asymptote, a lower EC50, or both. This dual target reporter gene bioassay system reflects potential mechanism of action and demonstrated the ability of anti-PD-L1/CD40L BsAbFP to synergistically induce biological response compared to the combination of anti-PD-L1 monovalent monoclonal antibody and agonist CD40L fusion protein, or either treatment alone. The results also showed a strong correlation between the drug dose and biological response within the tested potency range with good linearity, accuracy, precision, specificity and stability indicating properties, suggesting that this "three-cell-in-one" dual target reporter gene bioassay is suitable for assessing potency, structure-function and critical quality attributes of anti-PD-L1/CD40L BsAbFP. This approach could be used for developing dual target bioassays for other BsAbs and antibodies used for combination therapy.

Keywords: bioassay; bispecific antibody; mechanism of action; potency; qualification.

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