Metabolic exploitation of the sialic acid biosynthetic pathway to generate site-specifically labeled antibodies

Matthew M. Rochefort, Mark D. Girgis, Jacob S. Ankeny, James S. Tomlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Lack of a universal site-specific conjugation methodology for antibodies limits their potential to be developed as tumor-specific imaging agents or targeted therapeutics. A potential mechanism for site-specific conjugation involves utilization of the conserved N-glycosylation site in the CH2 domain. We sought to develop an antibody with an altered azido-sugar at this site whereby site-specific label could be added. The HB8059 hybridoma was cultured with peracetylated N-azidoacetlymannosamine (Ac4ManNAz). The resulting azido-sugar antibody was conjugated to phosphine-polyethylene glycol (PEG3)-biotin via a modified Staudinger reaction. Biochemical and functional characterization of the biotinylated antibody was performed. The azido-sugar antibody was also labeled with DyLight-650-Phosphine and injected into mice harboring pancreatic cancer xenografts. The tumors were dissected and imaged utilizing an IVIS fluorescent camera. The antibody was successfully produced in 100 μM Ac4ManNAz. The biotinylated antibody demonstrated a 50 kDa heavy and 25 kDa light chain on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, but demonstrated a single band at 50 kDa on western blot. Treatment with a N-linked glycosidase extinguished the band. Flow cytometry demonstrated antigen-specific binding of CA19-9-positive cells and the antibody localized to the antigen-positive tumor in vivo. We successfully produced an antibody with an azido-sugar at the conserved CH 2 glycosylation site. We were able to utilize this azide to label the antibody with biotin or fluorescent label and demonstrate that the label is added in a site-specific manner to the heavy chain, N-linked glycosylation site. Finally, we demonstrated functionality of our antibody for in vitro and in vivo targeting of pancreatic cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-69
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • antibody
  • glycosylation
  • labeling
  • site specific


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