Highly avid magnetic bead capture: An efficient selection method for de novo protein engineering utilizing yeast surface display

Margaret Ackerman, David Levary, Gabriel Tobon, Benjamin Hackel, Kelly Davis Orcutt, K. Dane Wittrup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Protein engineering relies on the selective capture of members of a protein library with desired properties. Yeast surface display technology routinely enables as much as million-fold improvements in binding affinity by alternating rounds of diversification and flow cytometrybased selection. However, flow cytometry is not well suited for isolating de novo binding clones from naïve libraries due to limitations in the size of the population that can be analyzed, the minimum binding affinity of clones that can be reliably captured, the amount of target antigen required, and the likelihood of capturing artifactual binders to the reagents. Here, we demonstrate a method for capturing rare clones that maintains the advantages of yeast as the expression host, while avoiding the disadvantages of FACS in isolating de novo binders from naïve libraries. The multivalency of yeast surface display is intentionally coupled with multivalent target presentation on magnetic beads-allowing isolation of extremely weak binders from billions of non-binding clones, and requiring far less target antigen for each selection, while minimizing the likelihood of isolating undesirable alternative solutions to the selective pressure. Multivalent surface selection allows 30,000-fold enrichment and almost quantitative capture of micromolar binders in a single pass using less than one microgram of target antigen. We further validate the robust nature of this selection method by isolation of de novo binders against lysozyme as well as its utility in negative selections by isolating binders to streptavidin-biotin that do not cross-react to streptavidin alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-783
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Combinatorial library screening
  • Yeast surface display


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