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Mol Gen Genet. 1995 Dec 10;249(4):425-31.

Mapping of linear epitopes recognized by monoclonal antibodies with gene-fragment phage display libraries.

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Institute of Molecular Genetics, University of Heidelberg, Germany.


Epitope mapping with mono- or polyclonal antibodies has so far been done either by dissecting the antigens into overlapping polypeptides in the form of recombinantly expressed fusion proteins, or by synthesizing overlapping short peptides, or by a combination of both methods. Here, we report an alternative method which involves the generation of random gene fragments of approximately 50-200 bp in length and cloning these into the 5' terminus of the protein III gene of fd phages. Selection for phages that bind a given monoclonal antibody and sequencing the DNA inserts of immunopositive phages yields derived amino acid sequences containing the desired epitope. A monoclonal antibody (mAb 215) directed against the largest subunit of Drosophila RNA polymerase II (RPB215) was used to map the corresponding epitope in a fUSE5 phage display library made of random DNA fragments from plasmid DNA containing the entire gene. After a single round of panning with this phage library, bacterial colonies were obtained which produced fd phages displaying the mAb 215 epitope. Sequencing of single-stranded phage DNA from a number of positive colonies (recognized by the antibody on colony immunoblots) resulted in overlapping sequences all containing the 15mer epitope determined by mapping with synthetic peptides. Similarly, we have localized the epitopes recognized by a mouse monoclonal antibody directed against the human p53 protein, and by a mouse monoclonal antibody directed against the human cytokeratin 19 protein. Identification of positive colonies after the panning procedure depends on the detection system used (colony immunoblot or ELISA) and there appear to be some restrictions to the use of linker-encoded amino acids for optimal presentation of epitopes. A comparison with epitope mapping by synthetic peptides shows that the phage display method allows one to map linear epitopes down to a size only slightly larger than the true epitope. In general, our phage display method is faster, easier, and cheaper than the construction of overlapping fusion proteins or the use of synthetic peptides, especially in cases where the antigen is a large polypeptide such as the 215 kDa subunit of eukaryotic RNA polymerase II.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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