Structural features of T cell receptor variable regions that enhance domain stability and enable expression as single-chain VαVβ fragments

Sarah A. Richman, David H. Aggen, Michelle L. Dossett, David L. Donermeyer, Paul M. Allen, Philip D. Greenberg, David M. Kranz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The variable (V) domains of antibodies and T cell receptors (TCRs) share sequence homology and striking structural similarity. Single-chain antibody V domain constructs (scFv) are routinely expressed in a variety of heterologous systems, both for production of soluble protein as well as for in vitro engineering. In contrast, single-chain T cell receptor V domain constructs (scTCR) are prone to aggregation and misfolding and are refractory to display on phage or yeast in their wild-type form. However, through random mutagenesis and yeast display engineering, it has been possible to isolate scTCR mutants that are properly folded and displayed on the yeast surface. These displayed mutants can serve not only as a scaffold for further engineering but also as scTCR variants that exhibit favorable biophysical properties in Escherichia coli expression. Thus, a more comprehensive understanding of the V domain mutations that allowed display would be beneficial. Our goal here was to identify generalizable patterns of important mutations that can be applied to different TCRs. We compared five different scTCRs, four from mice and one from a human, for yeast surface display. Analysis of a collection of mutants revealed four distinct regions of TCR V domains that were most important for enabling surface expression: the Vα-Vβ interface, the HV4 of Vβ, and the region of the Vα and Vβ domains normally apposed against the constant (C) domains. Consistent with the role of the V-C interface in surface display, reconstitution of this interface, by including the constant domains of each chain, allowed V domain display and αβ chain association on the yeast surface, thus providing an alternative TCR scaffold. However, the surface levels of TCR achieved with engineered scTCR mutants were superior to that of the VαCα/VβCβ constructs. Therefore, we describe further optimization of the current strategy for surface display of the single-chain format in order to facilitate yeast display engineering of a broader range of scTCRs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-916
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Directed evolution
  • Single-chain
  • T cell receptor
  • Yeast display


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural features of T cell receptor variable regions that enhance domain stability and enable expression as single-chain VαVβ fragments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this