A general strategy for the evolution of bond-forming enzymes using yeast display

Irwin Chen, Brent M Dorr, David R Liu
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2011 July 12, 108 (28): 11399-404
The ability to routinely generate efficient protein catalysts of bond-forming reactions chosen by researchers, rather than nature, is a long-standing goal of the molecular life sciences. Here, we describe a directed evolution strategy for enzymes that catalyze, in principle, any bond-forming reaction. The system integrates yeast display, enzyme-mediated bioconjugation, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting to isolate cells expressing proteins that catalyze the coupling of two substrates chosen by the researcher. We validated the system using model screens for Staphylococcus aureus sortase A-catalyzed transpeptidation activity, resulting in enrichment factors of 6,000-fold after a single round of screening. We applied the system to evolve sortase A for improved catalytic activity. After eight rounds of screening, we isolated variants of sortase A with up to a 140-fold increase in LPETG-coupling activity compared with the starting wild-type enzyme. An evolved sortase variant enabled much more efficient labeling of LPETG-tagged human CD154 expressed on the surface of HeLa cells compared with wild-type sortase. Because the method developed here does not rely on any particular screenable or selectable property of the substrates or product, it represents a powerful alternative to existing enzyme evolution methods.

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