Research Papers:

Utilizing combinatorial engineering to develop Tie2 targeting antagonistic angiopoetin-2 ligands as candidates for anti-angiogenesis therapy

Tomer Shlamkovich, Lidan Aharon, William A. Barton and Niv Papo _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:33571-33585. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16827

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Tomer Shlamkovich1, Lidan Aharon1, William A. Barton2, Niv Papo1

1Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and the National Institute of Biotechnology in the Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

2Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Richmond, Virginia, United States of America

Correspondence to:

Niv Papo, email: [email protected]

Keywords: protein-protein interactions, protein engineering, directed evolution, angiogenesis, antagonistic activity

Received: February 07, 2017     Accepted: March 24, 2017     Published: April 04, 2017


In many human cancers, the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) Tie2 plays important roles in mediating proliferation, survival, migration and angiogenesis. Thus, molecules that could potently inhibit activation of the Tie2 receptor would have a significant impact on cancer therapy. Nevertheless, attempts to develop Tie2-targeted inhibitors have met with little success, and there is currently no FDA-approved therapeutic selectively targeting Tie2. We used a combinatorial protein engineering approach to develop a new generation of angiopoietin (Ang)2-derived Tie2 antagonists as potential cancer therapeutics and as tools to study angiogenesis. The construct for designing a yeast surface display (YSD) library of potential antagonists was an Ang2 binding domain (Ang2-BD) that retains Tie2 binding ability but prevents ligand multimerization and receptor dimerization and activation. This mutant library was then screened by quantitative high-throughput flow cytometric sorting to identify Ang2-BD variants with increased expression, stability and affinity to Tie2. The selected variants were recombinantly expressed and showed high affinity to soluble and cellular Tie2 and strongly inhibited both Tie2 phosphorylation and endothelial capillary tube formation and cell invasion compared to the parental Ang2-BD. The significance of the study lies in the insight it provides into the sequence-structure-function relationships and mechanism of action of the antagonistic Ang mutants. The approach of using a natural protein ligand as a molecular scaffold for engineering high-affinity agents can be applied to other ligands to create functional protein antagonists against additional biomedical targets.

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