The identification of protein ligands from a DNA-encoded library is commonly conducted by an affinity selection assay. These assays are often not validated for robustness, raising questions about selections that fail to identify ligands and the utility of enrichment values for ranking ligand potencies. Here, we report a method for optimizing and utilizing affinity selection assays to identify potent and selective peptidic ligands to the highly related chromodomains of CBX proteins. To optimize affinity selection parameters, statistical analyses (Z' factors) were used to define the ability of selection assay conditions to identify and differentiate ligands of varying affinity. A DNA-encoded positional scanning library of peptidomimetics was constructed around a trimethyllysine-containing parent peptide, and parallel selections against the chromodomains from CBX8 and CBX7 were conducted over three protein concentrations. Relative potencies of off-DNA hit molecules were determined through a fluorescence polarization assay and were consistent with enrichments observed by DNA sequencing of the affinity selection assays. In addition, novel peptide-based ligands were discovered with increased potency and selectivity to the chromodomain of CBX8. The results indicate low DNA tag bias and show that affinity-based in vitro selection assays are sufficiently robust for both ligand discovery and determination of quantitative structure-activity relationships.
Keywords: DNA-encoded libraries; affinity selection assay; chromobox (CBX) proteins; chromodomains; peptidomimetics.