Netsu Sokutei, 47 (4), p. 129, (2020)



Thermal Stability Estimation of Single-Domain Antibodies by Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Single-domain antibodies (sdAbs) function like regular antibodies, but they consist of only one domain. Because of their low molecular weight, sdAbs have advantages with respect to production and delivery to their targets and for applications such as antibody drugs and biosensors. Hence, sdAbs with high thermal stability are required. In this work, we chose seven sdAbs, which have a wide range of melting temperature (Tm) values and known structures. We applied molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to estimate their relative stability and compared them with the experimental data. High-temperature MD simulations at 400 K and 500 K were executed with simulations at 300 K as a control. The fraction of native atomic contacts, Q, measured for the 400 K simulations showed a fairly good correlation with the Tm values. Interestingly, when the residues were classified by their hydrophobicity and size, the Q values of hydrophilic residues exhibited an even better correlation, suggesting that stabilization is correlated with favorable interactions of hydrophilic residues. Measuring the Q value on a per-residue level enabled us to identify residues that contribute significantly to the instability and thus demonstrating how our analysis can be used in a mutant case study.