Display of Single-Chain Insulin-like Peptides on a Yeast Surface

Biochemistry. 2019 Jan 22;58(3):182-188. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b01094. Epub 2019 Jan 3.


Insulin and insulin-like peptides play a pivotal role in a wide variety of cellular and physiological events, including energy storage, proliferation, aging, and differentiation. Variants of insulin and insulin-like peptides may therefore be probes for studying the insulin signaling pathway and therapeutic candidates for treating metabolic diseases. Here, we report a method for genetically displaying single-chain insulin-like peptides on the surface of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain DY1632. Using a previously reported single-chain insulin analogue, SCI-57, as a model, we demonstrate that nearly 70% of yeast binds to insulin receptor (IR), suggesting that SCI-57 is folded correctly and maintains its IR binding property. Furthermore, the interaction between displayed SCI-57 and IR can be weakened using increasing concentrations of native insulin as a soluble competitor, suggesting that the interaction is insulin-dependent. We further applied this methodology to three other single-chain insulin analogues with various lengths and confirmed their interactions with IR. In summary, we successfully displayed a number of insulin-like peptides on a yeast surface and demonstrated insulin-dependent interactions with IR. This method may, therefore, be used for construction of libraries of insulin-like peptides to select for chemical probes or therapeutic molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Surface Display Techniques / methods*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Insulin / chemistry
  • Insulin / genetics
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*


  • Insulin
  • Peptides
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Receptor, Insulin