Non-biological synthetic oligomers can serve as ligands for antibodies. We hypothesized that a random combinatorial library of synthetic poly-N-substituted glycine oligomers, or peptoids, could represent a random "shape library" in antigen space, and that some of these peptoids would be recognized by the antigen-binding pocket of disease-specific antibodies. We synthesized and screened a one bead one compound combinatorial library of peptoids, in which each bead displayed an 8-mer peptoid with ten possible different amines at each position (10(8) theoretical variants). By screening one million peptoid/beads we found 112 (approximately 1 in 10,000) that preferentially bound immunoglobulins from human sera known to be positive for anti-HIV antibodies. Reactive peptoids were then re-synthesized and rigorously evaluated in plate-based ELISAs. Four peptoids showed very good, and one showed excellent, properties for establishing a sero-diagnosis of HIV. These results demonstrate the feasibility of constructing sero-diagnostic assays for infectious diseases from libraries of random molecular shapes. In this study we sought a proof-of-principle that we could identify a potential diagnostic antibody ligand biomarker for an infectious disease in a random combinatorial library of 100 million peptoids. We believe that this is the first evidence that it is possible to develop sero-diagnostic assays - for any infectious disease - based on screening random libraries of non-biological molecular shapes.
Gearhart TL, Montelaro RC, Schurdak ME, Pilcher CD, Rinaldo CR, Kodadek T, Park Y, Islam K, Yurko R, Marques ET Jr., Burke DS. (2016). Selection of a potential diagnostic biomarker for HIV infection from a random library of non-biological synthetic peptoid oligomers. Journal of immunological methods, (435)