Development of VHH- and antibody- based imaging and diagnostic tools
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Chemistry.
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The immune system distinguishes self from non-self to combat pathogenic incursions. Evasion tactics deployed by viruses, microbes, or malignant cells may impede an adequate response. In such cases, therapeutic interventions aid in the elimination of pathogens and the restoration of physiological homeostasis. A major road block in the development of such therapies is the reliance on imperfect detection methods to identify site(s) of infection, or to monitor immune cell recruitment to sites of infection or inflammation in vivo. The goal of this thesis is overcome at least some of these limitations by utilizing novel tools that have been developed and refined in the laboratory to facilitate in vitro and in vivo characterization of specific immune subsets. We then track their recruitment to sites of active immune responses, such as infection or tumor progression sites. These tools consist of two components: one that confers specificity for immune cells and the other offers a site for labeling in a controlled manner. Single-domain antibodies (VHHs) from camelids are amongst the smallest (15 KDa) proteins that can recognize a diverse set of targets with excellent specificity. Chemoenzymatic labeling of molecules using sortase allows site-specific attachment of a single label of interest to the target protein containing the sortase recognition sequence LPXTG. VHHs specific for immune cell determinants labeled with sortase technology facilitate non-invasive and efficient monitoring of cells that infiltrate immunological niches in vivo in a manner not possible until now. This thesis presents the development of novel methods to allow in vitro and in vivo detection and imaging of specific immune subsets and their recruitment to sites of an active immune response. This thesis aims to (1) use DNA oligomers as a scaffold to push the limits of fluorescence labelling yield (2) create small and efficient biosensors for the rapid capture of specific lymphocyte subsets from peripheral blood samples using VHHs and graphene oxide nanosheets (3) develop radioisotope-labeled VHHs to track immune cell subsets to elucidate the roles of innate and adaptive immune components in the course of infection. Chapter 1 describes a new method for protein labeling via site-specific modification of proteins using a DNA scaffold. To avoid self-quenching of multiple fluorophores localized in close proximity, Holliday junctions were used to label proteins site-specifically with fluorophores. Holliday junctions enable the introduction of multiple fluorophores with reasonably precise spacing to improve fluorescence yield for both single domain and full-sized antibodies, without deleterious effects on antigen binding. Chapter 2 presents a biosensor generated for characterization of leukocytes from whole blood using a graphene oxide surface coated with single domain antibody fragments. This format allows quick and efficient capture of distinct white blood cell subpopulations from small samples of whole blood in a format that does not require any specialized equipment such as cell sorters or microfluidic devices. Chapter 3 documents a non-invasive immune-PET imaging method for tracing CD8+ T cells in the course of influenza A infection to better elucidate their protective mechanism(s) and immunopathological effects.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Chemistry, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Chemistry.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Chemistry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology