In Vitro Selection of Peptides and Proteins-Advantages of mRNA Display

Matilda S. Newton, Yari Cabezas-Perusse, Cher Ling Tong, Burckhard Seelig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


mRNA display is a robust in vitro selection technique that allows the selection of peptides and proteins with desired functions from libraries of trillions of variants. mRNA display relies upon a covalent linkage between a protein and its encoding mRNA molecule; the power of the technique stems from the stability of this link, and the large degree of control over experimental conditions afforded to the researcher. This article describes the major advantages that make mRNA display the method of choice among comparable in vivo and in vitro methods, including cell-surface display, phage display, and ribosomal display. We also describe innovative techniques that harness mRNA display for directed evolution, protein engineering, and drug discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 21 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Fredarla Miller for comments on the manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the US National Institutes of Health GM108703, AI113406, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration NNX14AK29G and 80NSSC18K1277, the Simons Foundation, and the Biocatalysis Initiative of the BioTechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.


  • in vitro selection
  • mRNA display
  • phage display
  • protein engineering
  • ribosome display
  • unnatural amino acids


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