Expression of a functional single-chain antibody via Corynebacterium pseudodiphtheriticum.
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Antibody-based therapeutics are effective against conditions ranging from acute infections to malignancy. They may prove crucial in combating bioterrorism and responding to drug-resistant and emerging pathogens. At present the cost of producing therapeutic monoclonal antibodies is between $1,000 to $6,000 per gram. The need to administer antibodies parenterally at frequent intervals further drives the cost of this treatment. Here we present an antibody delivery system, termed paratransgenesis, with the potential to overcome these limitations. The paratransgenic approach involves genetically transforming a commensal or symbiont bacterium to express foreign molecules that target pathogens. We describe transformation of Corynebacterium pseudodiptheriticum, a commensal bacterium found in the human respiratory tract, to express a murine single-chain antibody binding progesterone. The antibody was functional and bound specifically to progesterone in a concentration-dependent manner. This marker antibody system is the precursor to development of expression systems producing recombinant humanized single-chain antibodies. Studies are in progress evaluating fitness, transgene stablility, and pathogenecity of the genetically engineered C. pseudodiptheriticum. We anticipate developing a repertoire of expressed molecules targeting infectious agents and surface epitopes of pulmonary mass lesions. If expression systems for anti-pathogen molecules in C. pseudodiptheriticum and other respiratory commensal bacteria can be optimized, these bacteria have the potential for a range of therapeutic and prophylactic applications.