Chickens with humanized immunoglobulin genes generate antibodies with high affinity and broad epitope coverage to conserved targets.

Transgenic animal platforms for the discovery of human monoclonal antibodies have been developed in mice, rats, rabbits and cows. The immune response to human proteins is limited in these animals by their tolerance to mammalian-conserved epitopes. To expand the range of epitopes that are accessible, we have chosen an animal host that is less phylogenetically related to humans. Specifically, we generated transgenic chickens expressing antibodies from immunoglobulin heavy and light chain loci containing human variable regions and chicken constant regions. From these birds, paired human light and heavy chain variable regions are recovered and cloned as fully human recombinant antibodies. The human antibody-expressing chickens exhibit normal B cell development and raise immune responses to conserved human proteins that are not immunogenic in mice. Fully human monoclonal antibodies can be recovered with sub-nanomolar affinities. Binning data of antibodies to a human protein show epitope coverage similar to wild type chickens, which we previously showed is broader than that produced from rodent immunizations.

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