In cancer and autoimmune diseases, immunoglobulins with a specific molecular signature that could potentially be used as diagnostic or prognostic markers are released into body fluids. An immunomics approach based on this phenomenon relies on the ability to identify the specific amino acid sequences of the complementarity-determining regions (CDR) of these immunoglobulins, which in turn depends on the level of accuracy, resolution, and sensitivity that can be achieved by advanced mass spectrometry. Reproducible isolation and sequencing of antibody fragments (e.g., Fab) by high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) from seven healthy donors revealed 43 217 MS signals: 225 could be associated with CDR1 peptides, 513 with CDR2 peptides, and 19 with CDR3 peptides. Seventeen percent of the 43 217 MS signals did not overlap between the seven donors. The Fab isolation method used is reproducible and fast, with a high yield. It provides only one Fab sample fraction for subsequent characterization by high-resolution MS. In 17% and 4% of these seven healthy donors, qualitative (presence/absence) and quantitative (intensity) differences in Fab fragments could be demonstrated, respectively. From these results, we conclude that the identification of a CDR signature as biomarker for autoimmune diseases and cancer without prior knowledge of the antigen is feasible.

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Keywords CDR, adult, aged, antigen binding, article, complementarity determining region, controlled study, de novo sequencing, female, human, immunoglobulin F(ab) fragment, immunoglobulins, male, mass spectrometry, normal human, priority journal, variable regions
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Journal Journal of Proteome Research
de Costa, D, Broodman, I, Duijn, M.M, Stingl, C, Dekker, L.J.M, Burgers, P.C, … Luider, T.M. (2010). Sequencing and quantifying igg fragments and antigen-binding regions by mass spectrometry. Journal of Proteome Research, 9(6), 2937–2945. doi:10.1021/pr901114w