Effect of protein structure on deamidation rate in the Fc fragment of an IgG1 monoclonal antibody


  • The research reported in this manuscript was supported by Merck, Inc., though a contract with The University of Kansas Center of Research to co-author Elizabeth Topp. Co-authors Josef Vlasak and Roxana Ionescu are employees of Merck Research Laboratories, Inc. With the exception of these ongoing employer/employee relationships, the authors do not anticipate any direct financial gain as the result of the publication of this manuscript.


The effects of secondary structure on asparagine (N) deamidation in a 22 amino acid sequence (369-GFYPSDIAVEWESNGQPENNYK-390) of the crystallizable (Fc) fragment of a human monoclonal antibody (Fc IgG1) were investigated using high-resolution ultra performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC/MS). Samples containing either the intact Fc IgG (∼50 kD) (“intact protein”), or corresponding synthetic peptides (“peptide”) were stored in Tris buffer at 37°C and pH 7.5 for up to forty days, then subjected to UPLC/MS analysis with high energy MS1 fragmentation. The peptide deamidated only at N382 to form the isoaspartate (isoD382) and aspartate (D382) products in the ratio of ∼4:1, with a half-life of ∼3.4 days. The succinimide intermediate (Su382) was also detected; deamidation was not observed for the other two sites (N387 and N388) in peptide samples. The intact protein showed a 30-fold slower overall deamidation half-life of ∼108 days to produce the isoD382 and D387 products, together with minor amounts of D382. Surprisingly, the D382 and isoD387 products were not detected in intact protein samples and, as in the peptide samples, deamidation was not detected at N388. The results indicate that higher order structure influences both the rate of N-deamidation and the product distribution.