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Phage display biopanning and isolation of target-unrelated peptides: in search of nonspecific binders hidden in a combinatorial library

Babak Bakhshinejad, Hesam Motaleb Zade, Hosna Sadat Zahed Shekarabi, Sara Neman
Amino Acids 2016, 48 (12): 2699-2716
Phage display is known as a powerful methodology for the identification of targeting ligands that specifically bind to a variety of targets. The high-throughput screening of phage display combinatorial peptide libraries is performed through the affinity selection method of biopanning. Although phage display selection has proven very successful in the discovery of numerous high-affinity target-binding peptides with potential application in drug discovery and delivery, the enrichment of false-positive target-unrelated peptides (TUPs) without any actual affinity towards the target remains a major problem of library screening. Selection-related TUPs may emerge because of binding to the components of the screening system rather than the target. Propagation-related TUPs may arise as a result of faster growth rate of some phage clones enabling them to outcompete slow-propagating clones. Amplification of the library between rounds of biopanning makes a significant contribution to the selection of phage clones with propagation advantage. Distinguishing nonspecific TUPs from true target binders is of particular importance for the translation of biopanning findings from basic research to clinical applications. Different experimental and in silico approaches are applied to assess the specificity of phage display-derived peptides towards the target. Bioinformatic tools are playing a rapidly growing role in the analysis of biopanning data and identification of target-irrelevant TUPs. Recent progress in the introduction of efficient strategies for TUP detection holds enormous promise for the discovery of clinically relevant cell- and tissue-homing peptides and paves the way for the development of novel targeted diagnostic and therapeutic platforms in pharmaceutical areas.


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