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Characterization of site-specific glycation during process development of a human therapeutic monoclonal antibody



A therapeutic recombinant monoclonal antibody (mAb1) was found to be highly susceptible to glycation during production. Up to 42% glycation was observed in mAb1, which was significantly greater than the glycation observed in 17 other monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). The majority of the glycation was localized to lysine 98 of a unique sequence in the heavy chain complementarity determining region 3. Upon incubation with 5% glucose at 37°C for 5 days, the level of glycation rose to 80% of the total protein where the majority of the additional glycation was on the lysine 98 residue. These data suggested that the lysine 98 residue was highly susceptible to glycation. However, three other mAbs with a lysine residue in the same position did not show high rates of glycation in the forced glycation assay, suggesting that primary and perhaps secondary structural constraints could contribute to the rate of glycation at that lysine. Interestingly, a portion of the glycation in mAb1 was found to be reversible and upon incubation in phosphate buffer (pH 7) at 37°C for 5 days, the glycation dropped from starting levels of 42% to 20%. Variation was observed in the total glycation levels between different lots of mAb1. The variability in glycation introduced charge heterogeneity in the form of an acidic peak on cation exchange chromatography and lead to product inconsistency. Mutation of lysine 98 to arginine reduced the starting level of glycation without any impact on potency. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc. and the American Pharmacists Association J Pharm Sci 100:2543–2550, 2011