Development of a novel human phage display-derived anti-LAG3 scFv antibody targeting CD8+ T lymphocyte exhaustion

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Background: Lymphocyte-activation gene (LAG)3 is a 498 aa transmembrane type I protein acting as an immune inhibitory receptor. It is expressed on activated lymphocytes, natural killer cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells. In activated lymphocytes, LAG3 expression is involved in negative control of cell activation/proliferation to ensure modulation and control of immune responses. In view of its deregulated expression in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, LAG3, together with the additional immune checkpoint inhibitors CTLA4 and PD1, is considered a major target in order to reverse the immunosuppression typically mounting in oncologic diseases. Since many patients still fail to respond to current immune checkpoints-based therapies, the identification of new effective immune inhibitors is a priority in the ongoing fight against cancer. Results: We identified a novel human single-chain variable fragment (scFv) Ab against a conformational epitope of LAG3 by in vitro phage display technology using the recombinant antigen as a bait. This scFv (referred to as F7) was characterized in terms of binding specificity to both recombinant antigen and human LAG3-expressing cells. It was then rebuilt into an IgG format pre-optimized for clinical usage, and the resulting bivalent construct was shown to preserve its ability to bind LAG3 on human cells. Next, we analyzed the activity of the anti-LAG3 scFvF7 using two different antigen-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte clones as target cells. We proved that the reconstituted anti-LAG3 F7 Ab efficiently binds the cell membrane of both cell clones after peptide-activation. Still more significantly, we observed a striking increase in the peptide-dependent cell activation upon Ab treatment as measured in terms of IFN-γrelease by both ELISA and ELISPOT assays. Conclusions: Overall, the biotechnological strategy described herein represents a guiding development model for the search of novel useful immune checkpoint inhibitors. In addition, our functional data propose a novel candidate reagent for consideration as a cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
JournalBMC Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 17 2019


  • CD8 T lymphocytes
  • LAG3
  • Lymphocyte exhaustion
  • Phage display
  • Reconstituted scFv
  • Single-chain variable fragment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology


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