Examining epitope mutagenesis as a strategy to reduce and eliminate human antibody binding to class II swine leukocyte antigens

Joseph M. Ladowski, Gregory R. Martens, Luz M. Reyes, Vera Hauptfeld-Dolejsek, Matthew Tector, Joseph Tector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Xenotransplantation of pig organs into people may help alleviate the critical shortage of donors which faces organ transplantation. Unfortunately, human antibodies vigorously attack pig tissues preventing the clinical application of xenotransplantation. The swine leukocyte antigens (SLA), homologs of human HLA molecules, can be xenoantigens. SLA molecules, encoded by genes in the pig major histocompatibility complex, contribute to protective immune responses in pig. Therefore, simply inactivating them through genome engineering could reduce the ability of the human immune system to surveil transplanted pig organs for infectious disease or the development of neoplasms. A potential solution to this problem is to identify and modify epitopes in SLA proteins to eliminate their contribution to humoral xenoantigenicity while retaining their biosynthetic competence and ability to contribute to protective immunity. We previously showed that class II SLA proteins were recognized as xenoantigens and mutating arginine at position 55 to proline, in an SLA-DQ beta chain, could reduce human antibody binding. Here, we extend these observations by creating several additional point mutants at position 55. Using a panel of monoclonal antibodies specific for class II SLA proteins, we show that these mutants remain biosynthetically competent. Examining antibody binding to these variants shows that point mutagenesis can reduce, eliminate, or increase antibody binding to class II SLA proteins. Individual mutations can have opposite effects on antibody binding when comparing samples from different people. We also performed a preliminary analysis of creating point mutants near to position 55 to demonstrate that manipulating additional residues also affects antibody reactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-487
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Leukocyte antigens
  • Mutagenesis
  • SLA-DQ
  • Swine
  • Xenotransplantation


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