Rapid Development of New Protein Biosensors Utilizing Peptides Obtained via Phage Display

Wu, Jun; Park, Jong Pil; Dooley, Kevin P.; Cropek, Donald M.; West, Alan C.; Banta, Scott A.

There is a consistent demand for new biosensors for the detection of protein targets, and a systematic method for the rapid development of new sensors is needed. Here we present a platform where short unstructured peptides that bind to a desired target are selected using M13 phage display. The selected peptides are then chemically synthesized and immobilized on gold, allowing for detection of the target using electrochemical techniques such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). A quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) is also used as a diagnostic tool during biosensor development. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by creating a novel peptide-based electrochemical biosensor for the enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT), a well-known biomarker of hepatotoxicity. Biopanning of the M13 phage display library over immobilized ALT, led to the rapid identification of a new peptide (ALT5-8) with an amino acid sequence of WHWRNPDFWYLK. Phage particles expressing this peptide exhibited nanomolar affinity for immobilized ALT (Kd,app = 85±20 nM). The newly identified ALT5-8 peptide was then chemically synthesized with a C-terminal cysteine for gold immobilization. The performance of the gold-immobilized peptides was studied with cyclic voltammetry (CV), QCM, and EIS. Using QCM, the sensitivity for ALT detection was 8.9±0.9 Hz/(μg/mL) and the limit of detection (LOD) was 60 ng/mL. Using EIS measurements, the sensitivity was 142±12 impedance percentage change %/(μg/mL) and the LOD was 92 ng/mL. In both cases, the LOD was below the typical concentration of ALT in human blood. Although both QCM and EIS produced similar LODs, EIS is preferable due to a larger linear dynamic range. Using QCM, the immobilized peptide exhibited a nanomolar dissociation constant for ALT (Kd = 20.1±0.6 nM). These results demonstrate a simple and rapid platform for developing and assessing the performance of sensitive, peptide-based biosensors for new protein targets.


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Chemical Engineering
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August 8, 2013