Commun Biol. 2021 May 12;4(1):561. doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02066-5.
Synthetic antibody (Ab) technologies are efficient and cost-effective platforms for the generation of monoclonal Abs against human antigens. Yet, they typically depend on purified proteins, which exclude integral membrane proteins that require the lipid bilayers to support their native structure and function. Here, we present an Ab discovery strategy, termed CellectSeq, for targeting integral membrane proteins on native cells in complex environment. As proof of concept, we targeted three transmembrane proteins linked to cancer, tetraspanin CD151, carbonic anhydrase 9, and integrin-α11. First, we performed in situ cell-based selections to enrich phage-displayed synthetic Ab pools for antigen-specific binders. Then, we designed next-generation sequencing procedures to explore Ab diversities and abundances. Finally, we developed motif-based scoring and sequencing error-filtering algorithms for the comprehensive interrogation of next-generation sequencing pools to identify Abs with high diversities and specificities, even at extremely low abundances, which are very difficult to identify using manual sampling or sequence abundances.