Binding proteins are typically isolated from combinatorial libraries of scaffold proteins using one of the many library screening tools available, such as phage display, yeast surface display or mRNA display. A key principle underlying these screening technologies is the establishment of a link between each unique mutant protein and its corresponding genetic code. The mutant proteins binding a desired target species are separated and subsequently identified using the genetic code. In this review, we largely focus on the use of yeast surface display for the isolation of binding proteins from combinatorial libraries. In yeast surface display, the yeast cell links the mutant protein to its coding DNA. Each yeast cell expresses the mutant proteins as fusions to a yeast cell wall protein; the yeast cell also carries plasmid DNA that codes for the mutant protein. Over the years, the yeast surface display platform has emerged as a powerful tool for protein engineering, and has been used in a variety of applications including affinity maturation, epitope mapping and biophysical characterization of proteins. Here we present a broad overview of the yeast surface display system and its applications, and compare it with other contemporary screening platforms. Further, we present detailed protocols for the use of yeast surface display to isolate de novo binding proteins from combinatorial libraries, and subsequent biophysical characterization of binders. These protocols can also be easily modified for affinity maturation of the isolated de novo binders.
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