Phage display peptide libraries: Deviations from randomness and correctives

Arie Ryvkin, Haim Ashkenazy, Yael Weiss-Ottolenghi, Chen Piller, Tal Pupko*, Jonathan M. Gershoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peptide-expressing phage display libraries are widely used for the interrogation of antibodies. Affinity selected peptides are then analyzed to discover epitope mimetics, or are subjected to computational algorithms for epitope prediction. A critical assumption for these applications is the random representation of amino acids in the initial naïve peptide library. In a previous study, we implemented next generation sequencing to evaluate a naïve library and discovered severe deviations from randomness in UAG codon over-representation as well as in high G phosphoramidite abundance causing amino acid distribution biases. In this study, we demonstrate that the UAG over-representation can be attributed to the burden imposed on the phage upon the assembly of the recombinant Protein 8 subunits. This was corrected by constructing the libraries using supE44-containing bacteria which suppress the UAG driven abortive termination. We also demonstrate that the overabundance of G stems from variant synthesis-efficiency and can be corrected using compensating oligonucleotide-mixtures calibrated by mass spectroscopy. Construction of libraries implementing these correctives results in markedly improved libraries that display random distribution of amino acids, thus ensuring that enriched peptides obtained in biopanning represent a genuine selection event, a fundamental assumption for phage display applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2018


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