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Branco, RJF, Dias AMGC, Roque ACA.  2012.  Understanding the molecular recognition between antibody fragments and protein A biomimetic ligand. Journal of Chromatography A. 1244:106-115. AbstractWebsite

Affinity chromatography with protein A from Staphylococcus aureus (SpA) is the most widespread and
accepted methodology for antibody capture during the downstream process of antibody manufacturing.
A triazine based ligand (ligand 22/8) was previously developed as an inexpensive and robust alternative
to SpA chromatography (Li et al. [12] and Teng et al. [11]). Despite the experimental success, there is no
structural information on the binding modes of ligand 22/8 to antibodies, namely to Immunoglobulin G
(IgG) molecules and fragments. In this work, we addressed this issue by a molecular docking approach
allied to molecular dynamics simulations. Theoretical results confirmed the preference of the synthetic
ligand to bind IgG through the binding site found in the crystallographic structure of the natural complex
between SpA and the Fc fragment of IgG. Our studies also suggested other unknown “hot-spots” for
specific binding of the affinity ligand at the hinge between VH and CH1 domains of Fab fragment. The best
docking poses were further analysed by molecular dynamics studies at three different protonation states
(pH 3, 7 and 11). The main interactions between ligand 22/8 and the IgG fragments found at pH 7 were
weaker at pH 3 and pH 11 and in these conditions the ligand start losing tight contact with the binding
site, corroborating the experimental evidence for protein elution from the chromatographic adsorbents
at these pH conditions.