Combining of synthetic VHH and immune scFv libraries for pregnancy-associated glycoproteins ELISA development

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2022 Aug;106(13-16):5093-5103. doi: 10.1007/s00253-022-12022-w. Epub 2022 Jun 20.


Nanobodies (VHH) from camelid antibody libraries hold great promise as therapeutic agents and components of immunoassay systems. Synthetic antibody libraries that could be designed and generated once and for various applications could yield binders to virtually any targets, even for non-immunogenic or toxic ones, in a short term. One of the most difficult tasks is to obtain antibodies with a high affinity and specificity to polyglycosylated proteins. It requires antibody libraries with extremely high functional diversity and the use of sophisticated selection techniques. Here we report a development of a novel sandwich immunoassay involving a combination of the synthetic library-derived VHH-Fc fusion protein as a capture antibody and the immune single-chain fragment variable (scFv) as a tracer for the detection of pregnancy-associated glycoprotein (PAG) of cattle (Bos taurus). We succeeded in the generation of a number of specific scFv antibodies against PAG from the mouse immune library. Subsequent selection using the immobilized scFv-Fc capture antibody allowed to isolate 1.9 nM VHH binder from the diverse synthetic library without any overlapping with the capture antibody binding site. The prototype sandwich ELISA based on the synthetic VHH and the immune scFv was established. This is the first successful example of the combination of synthetic and immune antibody libraries in a single sandwich immunoassay. Thus, our approach could be used for the express isolation of antibody pairs and the development of sandwich immunoassays for challenging antigens. KEY POINTS: • Heavily glycosylated PAG Bos Taurus were used for immune library construction and specific scFv isolation by phage display. • Nanomolar affinity VHH for PAG was selected from the original synthetic nanobodies library. • A novel VHH/scFv-based immunoassay for Bos Taurus pregnancy determination was developed.

Keywords: ELISA; Nanobody; Phage display; Pregnancy-associated glycoprotein.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Surface Display Techniques
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins
  • Mice
  • Peptide Library
  • Pregnancy
  • Single-Chain Antibodies* / genetics
  • Single-Domain Antibodies*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Peptide Library
  • Single-Chain Antibodies
  • Single-Domain Antibodies