• We generated Affimers against platelet GPVI and mapped their binding sites, revealing functional regions regulating ligand binding.

  • A dimeric epitope was identified on GPVI for Affimer D18 which specifically binds GPVI dimer through a 1:1 interaction.

Glycoprotein (GP)VI plays a key role in collagen-induced platelet aggregation. Affimers are engineered binding protein alternatives to antibodies. We screened and characterized GPVI-binding Affimers as novel tools to probe GPVI function. Among the positive clones, M17, D22 and D18 bound GPVI with the highest affinities (KD in the nM range). These Affimers inhibited GPVI-CRP-XL/collagen interactions, CRP-XL/collagen induced platelet aggregation and D22 also inhibited in vitro thrombus formation on a collagen surface under flow. D18 bound GPVI dimer but not monomer. GPVI binding was increased for D18 but not M17/D22 upon platelet activation by CRP-XL and ADP. D22 but not M17/D18 displaced nanobody2 (Nb2) binding to GPVI, indicating similar epitopes for D22 with Nb2 but not for M17/D18. Mapping of binding sites revealed that D22 binds a site that overlaps with Nb2 on the D1-domain, while M17 targets a site on the D2-domain, overlapping in part with the glenzocimab binding site, a humanized GPVI antibody Fab-fragment. D18 targets a new region on the D2-domain. We found that D18 is a stable non-covalent dimer and forms a stable complex with dimeric GPVI with 1:1 stoichiometry. Taken together, our data demonstrate that Affimers modulate GPVI-ligand interactions and bind different sites on GPVI D1/D2-domains. D18 is dimer-specific and could be used as a tool to detect GPVI dimerization or clustering in platelets. A dimeric epitope regulating ligand binding was identified on the GPVI D2-domain, which could be used for the development of novel bivalent antithrombotic agents selectively targeting GPVI dimer on platelets.

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