Xenoprotein Engineering via Synthetic Libraries

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115(23), E5298-E5306, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1722633115

Chemical methods have enabled the total synthesis of protein molecules of ever-increasing size and complexity. However, methods to engineer synthetic proteins comprising noncanonical amino acids have not kept pace, even though this capability would be a distinct advantage of the total synthesis approach to protein science. In this work, we report a platform for protein engineering based on the screening of synthetic one-bead one-compound protein libraries. Screening throughput approaching that of cell surface display was achieved by a combination of magnetic bead enrichment, flow cytometry analysis of on-bead screens, and high-throughput MS/MS-based sequencing of identified active compounds. Direct screening of a synthetic protein library by these methods resulted in the de novo discovery of mirror-image miniprotein-based binders to a ∼150-kDa protein target, a task that would be difficult or impossible by other means.