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Keywords:

  • single-chain antibody;
  • tetramer;
  • Avitag;
  • blood-brain barrier

Antibodies that target and internalize into blood-brain barrier (BBB) endothelial cells offer promise as drug delivery agents. Previously, we identified a single-chain antibody (scFvA) capable of binding to the BBB. In an attempt to improve the binding and internalization properties of scFvA, a biotinylation tag (Avitag) was fused to scFvA and the protein secreted by yeast. The scFvA-Avitag could be biotinylated by yeast-displayed BirA enzyme and biotinylated scFvA-Avitag could be used to create scFv tetramers. Tetramerization of scFvA improved the internalization of scFvA into BBB endothelial cells, and biotinylated scFvA-Avitag could also be used to target streptavidin-coated quantum dots for BBB endothelial cell internalization. Perfusing the rat brain with scFvA-tetramer confirmed that the antigen targeted by scFvA is distributed on the blood side of the BBB, suggesting the potential for downstream application of scFvA in brain-targeted drug delivery. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 1245–1252, 2014