Adaptor-Specific Antibody Fragment Inhibitors for the Intracellular Modulation of p97 (VCP) Protein–Protein Interactions
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.2c03665
Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) form complex networks to drive cellular signaling and cellular functions. Precise modulation of a target PPI helps explain the role of the PPI in cellular events and possesses therapeutic potential. For example, valosin-containing protein (VCP/p97) is a hub protein that interacts with more than 30 adaptor proteins involved in various cellular functions. However, the role of each p97 PPI during the relevant cellular event is underexplored. The development of small-molecule PPI modulators remains challenging due to a lack of grooves and pockets in the relatively large PPI interface and the fact that a common binding groove in p97 binds to multiple adaptors. Here, we report an antibody fragment-based modulator for the PPI between p97 and its adaptor protein NSFL1C (p47). We engineered these antibody modulators by phage display against the p97-interacting domain of p47 and minimizing binding to other p97 adaptors. The selected antibody fragment modulators specifically disrupt the intracellular p97/p47 interaction. The potential of this antibody platform to develop PPI inhibitors in therapeutic applications was demonstrated through the inhibition of Golgi reassembly, which requires the p97/p47 interaction. This study presents a unique approach to modulate specific intracellular PPIs using engineered antibody fragments, demonstrating a method to dissect the function of a PPI within a convoluted PPI network.