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Double-peak elution profile of a monoclonal antibody in cation exchange chromatography is caused by histidine-protonation-based charge variants A

Luo, Haibin, Cao, Mingyan, Newell, Kelcy, Afdahl, Christopher, Wang, Jihong, Wang, William K., Li, Yuling
Journal of chromatography 2015 v.1424 pp. 92-101
cation exchange chromatography, digestion, histidine, immunoglobulin G, monoclonal antibodies, pH, pepsin, peptide mapping, resins, sodium chloride
We have systemically investigated unusual elution behaviors of an IgG4 (mAb A) in cation exchange chromatography (CEX). This mAb A exhibited two elution peaks under certain conditions when being purified by several strong CEX columns. When either of the two peaks was isolated and re-injected on the same column, the similar pattern was observed again during elution. The protein distribution between the two peaks could be altered by NaCl concentration in the feed, or NaCl concentration in wash buffer, or elution pH, suggesting two pH-associated strong-and-weak binding configurations. The protein distributions under different pH values showed good correlation with protonated/un-protonated fractions of a histidine residue. These results suggest that the double-peak elution profile associates with histidine-protonation-based charge variants. By conducting pepsin digestion, amino-acid specific chemical modifications, peptide mapping, and measuring the effects of elution residence time, a histidine in the variable fragment (Fab) was identified to be the root cause. Besides double-peak pattern, mAb A can also exhibit peak-shouldering or single elution peak on different CEX resins, reflecting different resins’ resolving capability on protonated/un-protonated forms. This work characterizes a novel cause for unusual elution behaviors in CEX and also provides alternative avenues of purification development for mAbs with similar behaviors.