Division of Biomedical Convergence, College of Biomedical Science, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, 24341, Republic of Korea; Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, 24341, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: [Email]
Entolimod (CBLB502) is a flagellin-derived radiation countermeasure currently under clinical trial. Entolimod exerts radioprotective activity by directly interacting with TLR5, an innate immune receptor, using the conserved domains of flagellin. Entolimod was designed to contain an artificially introduced N-terminal region that is not related to drug effects and might trigger unexpected toxic immunogenic reactions in humans. To refine the entolimod drug design, we engineered entolimod into KMRC011 by removing its ancillary region. The TLR5 binding and activating capacities of KMRC011 were assessed through biophysical and cellular analyses. KMRC011 forms an exceptionally stable complex with TLR5 at a 1:1 molar ratio with an equilibrium dissociation constant of ∼100 pM and potently activates TLR5. Moreover, alanine scanning mutagenesis identified the R90 and E114 residues of KMRC011 as a TLR5 activation hotspot. Further comparative analysis demonstrated that KMRC011 binds and activates TLR5 in a mode similar to that of entolimod. Thus, we propose that KMRC011 can be used in place of entolimod as a second-generation radiation countermeasure that shows none of the immunogenic side effects derived from the entolimod ancillary region.