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Production of a bispecific antibody targeting TNF-α and C5a in Pichia pastoris and its therapeutic potential in rheumatoid arthritis



To provide an alternative therapeutic modality for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a novel bispecific antibody (BsAb) targeting human tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and human complement component C5a was constructed.


BsAb was expressed in Pichia pastoris and secreted into the culture medium as a functional protein. In vitro functional study demonstrated that BsAb could simultaneously bind to TNF-α and C5a and neutralize their biological actions. Furthermore, BsAb showed significant improvements in both the antigen-binding affinity and the neutralizing ability as compared to its original antibodies produced in E. coli. It was also found that TNF-α and C5a had an additive/synergistic effect on promoting the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and C5a receptor (C5aR) expression in human macrophages. Compared to single inhibition of TNF-α or C5a with respective antibody, BsAb showed a superior efficacy in blocking inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and C5aR response, as well as in lowering the C5a-mediated chemotaxis of macrophages via C5aR in vitro.


With improved production processing and the ability to simultaneously block TNF-α and C5a action, BsAb has a great potential to be developed into a therapeutic agent and may offer a better therapeutic index for RA.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 30973669) and the Key Science-Technology foundation of Hubei Provincial Department of Education (Grant No. D20141002).

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Correspondence to Mengyuan Liu.

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Chen, J., He, Z., Fan, Y. et al. Production of a bispecific antibody targeting TNF-α and C5a in Pichia pastoris and its therapeutic potential in rheumatoid arthritis. Biotechnol Lett (2020).

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  • Bispecific antibody
  • Complement component C5a
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tumor necrosis factor α