IgGZERO® used to determine the core fucosylation of antibodies in bioprocess

Scientists at NIBRT in Dublin together with scientists at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, have investigated the effect of two different methods to control the level of fucosylation of a model antibody during expression in CHO cells.


Production of biopharmaceuticals in mammalian cells requires that critical quality attributes are controlled for safety and therapeutic efficacy. The efficacy of an IgG antibody for cancer immunotherapy is dependent on its ability to elicit effector functions such as antibody-dependent cell cytotoxcicity (ADCC). The absence of fucose on the core GlcNAc of the Fc glycan in the antibody increases the ADCC and hence there is a desire to control the level of fucosylation during the manufacturing process.


The model antibody investigated in this work was a camelid heavy-chain human Fc fusion of about 80 kDa in size. During expression of the antibody in CHO cells, two factors were were evaluated: the effect of adding a fucosyltransferase inhibitor and the impact of overexpression of a gene that deflects the fucose de novo pathway to a dead-end. The antibodies were harvested from the cell culture supernatant by a protein A column. The N-glycans of the antibodies were then released using PNGaseF, labelled with 2-AB and analyzed by HILIC-HPLC. The fucosylation pattern of the antibodies was identified by electrospray ionization mass spectroscopy (ESI-MS) of the intact control antibody after treatment with IgGZERO (EndoS). Hydrolysis with IgGZERO results in three possible antibody variants with two, one or no fucose per antibody. Since IgGZERO specifically removes the Fc glycans leaving the core GlcNAc (+/- fucose), the observed shift in mass of -146 Da and -292 Da revealed antibody species where one or two fucoses were missing. Using this approach, it was shown that the inhibitor for fucosyltransferase decreased the addition of fucose on the inner GlcNAc during the expression of the antibody in a concentration dependent manner.


By combining data from the released glycan analysis with the mass data of intact antibody after IgGZERO treatment, crucial information about the glycan profile and fucosylation pattern was revealed and evaluated to support the bioprocess design.