Highly efficient production of anti-HER2 scFv antibody variant for targeting breast cancer cells

Silvia Sommaruga, Alessio Lombardi, Agnese Salvadè, Serena Mazzucchelli, Fabio Corsi, Patrizia Galeffi, Paolo Tortora, Davide Prosperi

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29 Citations (Scopus)


The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is a transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor overexpressed in 30% of human breast cancers. One of the mechanisms by which tumor cell proliferation can be inhibited consists in hampering HER2 dimerization by targeting its extracellular domain with specific antibodies. In recent clinical practice, a valuable alternative to entire IgGs resides in the use of smaller molecules, such as single-chain variable fragments (scFv), developed for selective molecular targeting. In this paper, we report on the production and purification of a soluble anti-HER2 scFv antibody secreted by Pichia pastoris. The gene encoding scFv800E6 with an additional 6× His-tag at the 3′-end was inserted into the expression vector pPICZα and transformed in P. pastoris. The highest expression level was obtained in presence of 0.5% methanol and 0.8% glycerol in the culture medium after 48 h of induction. The use of P. pastoris proved very valuable as an expression system, allowing the isolation of 10 mg/L of highly purified antibody, remarkably higher than previously reported data. The functionality of purified anti-HER2 scFv was assessed by cytofluorimetry and immunofluorescence on HER2-positive MCF7 breast cancer cells, showing good affinity and high selectivity for the target membrane receptor. These findings confirm that P. pastoris is a suitable host for high level expression of antibody fragments and highlight the potential role of scFv800E6 in diagnostic and therapeutic application. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613 - 621
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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