The genetic engineering of monoclonal antibodies.
Owens RJ., Young RJ.
A number of recent technological developments have greatly facilitated the genetic engineering of immunoglobulins. The use of PCR has permitted the variable regions to be rapidly cloned either from a specific hybridoma source or as a gene library from non-immunised cells. The conversion of the rodent antibody into a humanized version is now well established. To develop these antibodies for clinical use has required the development of high level expression systems. For the expression of large multimeric glycoproteins, mammalian cell systems generally provide the highest levels of secreted product and therefore are the methods of choice for producing whole recombinant antibodies. Novel antigen-binding units have been developed by joining the two variable domains of an antibody into single-chain polypeptides. Such fragments can be produced in high yield by secretion from E. coli raising the prospect of bulk preparation of these antibody fragments for the development of low-cost immunopurification and assay reagents. Finally, the ability to screen for antigen binding by displaying immunoglobulin variable regions on the surface of filamentous bacteriaphages has opened up the possibility of bypassing the immune system to generate novel antibody specificities in vitro.