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Biopolymers. 2002;66(2):93-100.

The one-bead two-compound assay for solid phase screening of combinatorial libraries.

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Carlsberg Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Gamle Carlsberg Vej 10, DK-2500 Valby, Denmark.


Fluorescent quenched substrate libraries are a very powerful tool for investigation of protease activity and specificity. Particularly, libraries where the fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) pair is 3-nitrotyrosine and 2-amino-benzamide are easy to prepare by split and combine synthesis to yield a one-bead one-compound library format. The solid support is critical for the successful hydrolysis of the resin-bound substrates. For this purpose, a range of highly porous poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based resins have been developed. Active substrates yield highly fluorescent beads and these are selected under a fluorescence microscope or isolated on a bead sorter. Edman sequence analysis yields the substrate sequence, the cleavage point, and the degree of conversion. The method gives a complete map of the substrate specificity, and substrates with high affinity for the active site can be selected. These may in turn be used as inhibition indicators in a second solid phase library assay for enzyme inhibition where each single bead is transformed into an assay container. The substrate is attached to temporarily shielded functional groups after completion of inhibitor library synthesis. By using a photolabile linker and ladder synthesis, the active inhibitors may be rapidly identified by mass spectrometry. In each bead, the putative inhibitor competes with the substrate attached for binding to the enzyme, and when the inhibitor binds strongly, the substrate remains intact and quenched. Thus dark beads indicate inhibitors, and these may be isolated using a bead-sorter and the structure determined by mass spectrometry. A selection of the best substrates and inhibitors should always be resynthesized for solution kinetics and confirmation of the results obtained on solid support. The inhibitor assay is almost free from false positives, which is a consequence of combining the binding of the protease to the inhibitor with observation of activity toward a FRET substrate. The K(i) of the identified inhibitors are typically in the nM range.

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