Lymphocyte activation gene 3 protein (LAG3; CD223) is an inhibitory receptor that is highly upregulated on exhausted T cells in tumors and chronic viral infection. Consequently, LAG3 is now a major immunotherapeutic target for the treatment of cancer, and many mAbs against human (h) LAG3 (hLAG3) have been generated to block its inhibitory activity. However, little or no information is available on the epitopes they recognize. We selected a panel of seven therapeutic mAbs from the patent literature for detailed characterization. These mAbs were expressed as Fab or single-chain variable fragments and shown to bind hLAG3 with nanomolar affinities, as measured by biolayer interferometry. Using competitive binding assays, we found that the seven mAbs recognize four distinct epitopes on hLAG3. To localize the epitopes, we carried out epitope mapping using chimeras between hLAG3 and mouse LAG3. All seven mAbs are directed against the first Ig-like domain (D1) of hLAG3, despite their different origins. Three mAbs almost exclusively target a unique 30-residue loop of D1 that forms at least part of the putative binding site for MHC class II, whereas four mainly recognize D1 determinants outside this loop. However, because all the mAbs block binding of hLAG3 to MHC class II, each of the epitopes they recognize must at least partially overlap the MHC class II binding site.

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