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  1. null (Ed.)
    While antibodies remain established therapeutic and diagnostic tools, other protein scaffolds are emerging as effective and safer alternatives. Affibodies in particular are a new class of small proteins marketed as bio-analytic reagents. They feature tailorable binding affinity, low immunogenicity, high tissue permeation, and high expression titer in bacterial hosts. This work presents the development of affibody-binding peptides to be utilized as ligands for their purification from bacterial lysates. Affibody-binding candidates were identified by screening a peptide library simultaneously against two model affibodies (anti-immunoglobulin G (IgG) and anti-albumin) with the aim of selecting peptides targeting the conserved domain of affibodies. An ensemble of homologous sequences identified from screening was synthesized on Toyopearl® resin and evaluated via binding studies to select sequences that afford high product binding and recovery. The affibody–peptide interaction was also evaluated by in silico docking, which corroborated the targeting of the conserved domain. Ligand IGKQRI was validated through purification of an anti-ErbB2 affibody from an Escherichia coli lysate. The values of binding capacity (~5 mg affibody per mL of resin), affinity (KD ~1 μM), recovery and purity (64–71% and 86–91%), and resin lifetime (100 cycles) demonstrate that IGKQRI can be employed as ligand in affibody purification processes. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
  3. The impact of next-generation biorecognition elements (ligands) will be determined by the ability to remotely control their binding activity for a target biomolecule in complex environments. Compared to conventional mechanisms for regulating binding affinity (pH, ionic strength, or chaotropic agents), light provides higher accuracy and rapidity, and is particularly suited for labile targets. In this study, we demonstrate a general method to develop azobenzene-cyclized peptide ligands with light-controlled affinity for target proteins. Light triggers a cis/trans isomerization of the azobenzene, which results in a major structural rearrangement of the cyclic peptide from a non-binding to a binding configuration. Critical to this goal are the abiliy to achieve efficient photo-isomerization under low light dosage and the temporal stability of both cis and trans isomers. We demonstrated our method by designing photo-switchable peptides targeting vascular cell adhesion marker 1 (VCAM1), a cell marker implicated in stem cell function. Starting from a known VCAM1-binding linear peptide, an ensemble of azobenzene-cyclized variants with selective light-controlled binding were identified by combining in silico design with experimental characterization via spectroscopy and surface plasmon resonance. Variant cycloAZOB[G-VHAKQHRN-K] featured rapid, light-controlled binding of VCAM1 (KD,Trans/KD,Cis ~ 130). Biotin-cycloAZOB[G-VHAKQHRN-K] was utilized to label brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs), showing co-localization with anti-VCAM1 antibodies in cis configuration and negligible binding in trans configuration. 
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  4. Abstract

    The ability to rapidly and accurately evaluate bioactive compounds immobilized on porous particles is crucial in the discovery of drugs, diagnostic reagents, ligands, and catalysts. Existing options for solid phase screening of bioactive compounds, while highly effective and well established, can be cost-prohibitive for proof-of-concept and early stage work, limiting its applicability and flexibility in new research areas. Here, we present a low-cost microfluidics-based platform enabling automated screening of small porous beads from solid-phase peptide libraries with high sensitivity and specificity, to identify leads with high binding affinity for a biological target. The integration of unbiased computer assisted image processing and analysis tools, provided the platform with the flexibility of sorting through beads with distinct fluorescence patterns. The customized design of the microfluidic device helped with handling beads with different diameters (~100–300 µm). As a microfluidic device, this portable novel platform can be integrated with a variety of analytical instruments to perform screening. In this study, the system utilizes fluorescence microscopy and unsupervised image analysis, and can operate at a sorting speed of up to 125 beads/hr (~3.5 times faster than a trained operator) providing >90% yield and >90% bead sorting accuracy. Notably, the device has proven successful in screening a model solid-phase peptide library by showing the ability to select beads carrying peptides binding a target protein (human IgG).

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  5. Abstract

    The use of benign stimuli to control the binding and release of labile biologics for their isolation from complex feedstocks is a key goal of modern biopharmaceutical technology. This study introduces cyclic azobenzene‐peptide (CAP) ligands for the rapid and discrete photo‐responsive capture and release of blood coagulation factor VIII (FVIII). A predictive method—based on amino acid sequence and molecular architecture of CAPs—is developed to correlate the conformation ofcis/trans‐CAP photo‐isomers to FVIII binding and release. Combined in silico ‐ in vitro analysis of FVIII:peptide interactions guide the design of a rational approach to optimize isomerization kinetics and biorecognition of CAPs. A photoaffinity adsorbent, prepared by conjugating selected CAP G‐cycloAZOB[Lys‐YYKHLYN‐Lys]‐G on translucent chromatographic beads, features high binding capacity (>6 mg of FVIII per mL of resin) and rapid photo‐isomerization kinetics (τ < 30 s) when exposed to 420–450 nm light at the intensity of 0.1 W cm−2. The adsorbent purifies FVIII from a recombinant harvest using a single mobile phase, affording high product yield (>90%), purity (>95%), and blood clotting activity. The CAPs introduced in this report demonstrate a novel route integrating gentle operational conditions in a rapid and efficient bioprocess for the purification of life‐saving biotherapeutics.

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  6. Abstract

    Photo‐affinity adsorbents (i.e., translucent matrices functionalized with ligands featuring light‐controlled biorecognition) represent a futuristic technology for purifying labile biologics. In this study, a framework for prototyping photo‐affinity adsorbents comprising azobenzene‐cyclized peptides (ACPs) conjugated to translucent porous beads (ChemMatrix) is presented. This approach combines computational and experimental tools for designing ACPs and investigating their light‐controlled isomerization kinetics and protein biorecognition. First, a modular design for tailoring ACP's conformation, facilitating sequencing, and streamlining the in silico modeling of cis/trans isomers and their differential protein binding is introduced. Then, a spectroscopic system for measuring the photo‐isomerization kinetics of ACPs on ChemMatrix beads is reported; using this device, it is demonstrated that the isomerization at different light intensities is correlated to the cyclization geometry, specifically the energy difference of trans versus cis isomers as calculated in silico. Also, a microfluidic device for sorting ACP‐ChemMatrix beads to select and validate photo‐affinity ligands using Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule 1 (VCAM‐1) as target protein and cycloAZOB[GVHAKQHRN‐K*]‐G‐ChemMatrix as model photo‐affinity adsorbent is presented. The proposed ACPs exhibit rapid and defined light‐controlled isomerization and biorecognition. Controlling the adsorption and release of VCAM‐1 using light demonstrates the potential of photo‐affinity adsorbents for targets whose biochemical liability poses challenges to its purification.

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