Single-domain nano antibodies have a broad range of applications in biochemistry due to their small size, high affinity, and high specificity. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Basel and the University of Zurich has demonstrated that nano antibodies can be used for research in complex living organisms such as Drosophila, uncovering another new and exciting application for nano antibodies.
The team used nano antibodies to develop an assay for studying morphogens, molecules that regulate the pattern of tissue growth and the positions of various cell types within tissue. Morphogens form long-range concentration gradients from a localized source, ultimately determining the fate and arrangement of cells that respond to that gradient. Drosophila is a classic model system for understanding how morphogens regulate organ development. One morphogen called Dpp controls uniform proliferation and growth of the wing imaginal disc. Yet because Dpp is an extracellular, diffusible protein, it is difficult to immobilize in situ. Therefore, despite over 20 years of studying the role of Dpp as a morphogen, the lack of a dynamic system for controlling Dpp gradients has prevented researchers from understanding precisely how Dpp governs development of the wing disc.
By developing a novel synthetic system using nano antibodies, the researchers were able to modulate the concentration gradient of Dpp at the protein level. Their system—coined “morphotrap”—uses a membrane-bound GFP nano antibody to “trap” GFP-tagged Dpp at different locations along the wing imaginal disc. By tethering Dpp in a controlled spatial manner, researchers were able to determine how Dpp gradients affect wing disc development. They discovered that the gradient of Dpp is required for the patterning of the wing disc but not for lateral growth, disproving one of the field’s popular theories that address the role of Dpp. In addition to resolving the controversy with respect to the role of Dpp as a morphogen, this study pioneers a new method for using nano antibodies in situ.
“Dpp spreading is required for medial but not for lateral wing disc growth.”
Harmansa S., Hamaratoglu F., Affolter M., Caussinus E.
Nature. 2015 Nov 19;527(7578):317-22. doi: 10.1038/nature15712. Epub 2015 Nov 9.
Judging from the hundreds of papers published using camelid VHH antibodies as reagents, there are probably thousands of researchers who have experience with this type of antibodies by now. We like to call the ~15kD camelid VHH antibody nano antibody or nAbTM. Once someone experiences how well a nAb works for co-IP using a fluorescent protein as tag, they often wonder what it takes to bring nAbs to broader use.
The success of a nAb project starts with the antigen presentation. It is critical to build the capability to produce large quantities of recombinant antigen for immunization. At Allele, our scientists also established some unique presentation formats for traditionally difficult targets (e.g. large membrane proteins).
After llama immunization, the next step is screening. With the goal of creating large scale nano antibodies against diverse targets, we have developed multiple high throughput screening methods to cover very large, diverse libraries generated from immunized animals. The technologies will continue to evolve as the scale of nAb generation continues to expand. We have the ability to functionally screen for site-blocking antibodies and antibodies that only recognized natively folded targets, or targets in their naturally occurring presentations.
A nAb isolation project does not end with the obtaining of a cDNA clone. Or, if it does, the nAb is probably not as great as what Allele Biotech has been offering. In our hands, all nAbs go through an engineering step beginning with the generation of a 3D structural model of the isolated clone. We use structure-guided design to alter the protein, allowing us to improve its properties. This includes increasing affinity, solubility, or altering the protein to improve performance for specific applications. We also like to use known structures of traditional monoclonal antibodies to assist camelid VHH antibody engineering against specific targets.
With a finalized clone in hand, the next step is to establish protocols for commercial production. The Allele team spends a tremendous amount of effort aimed solely at high-yield, low-cost recombinant VHH antibody production in a variety of formats, so that the costs for other scientists to take advantage of these great reagents can be kept as low as possible.
Last but not the least, nAb labeling, including conjugating stable soluble VHH antibody to solid supports for immunoprecipitation or to fluorophores for detection, requires additional expertise and tight operation control. However, our vision is to have a modular system for antibody labeling that will enable the end user to select from a variety of fluorophores and other detection tags, which can be instantaneously and irreversibly coupled via simple mixing.
Note added: we work with commercial (diagnostic and clinical) partners from developing nAbs all the way to the market. We have expert scientists available to customers and licensees for consultation and troubleshooting antibody- and imaging-related questions and problems.
The following are references in regards to GFP Trap published in the second half of 2011 (not a complete list); a high quality GFP-binding protein based on a single domain antibody derived from Camelids. It is characterized by a small barrel shaped structure (13 KDa, 2.5nm X 4.5 nm) and a very high stability (stable up to 70°C, functional within 2M NaCl or 0.5% SDS). With much greater stability, specificity, and affnity, GFP-Trap®, the recent addition to antibodies for immunoprecipitation, should make GFP the most suitable tag for immunoprecipitation assays.
For live PubMed links, view this version please.
Krastev, D. B., Slabicki, M., et al. (2011). A systematic RNAi synthetic interaction screen reveals a link between p53 and snoRNP assembly. Nature Cell Biology. 13: 809-818. PubMed
Aboobakar, E. F., Wang, X., et al. (2011). The C2 domain protein Cts1 functions in the calcineurin signaling circuit during high temperature stress responses in Cryptococcus neoformans. Eukaryotic Cell. EC. 05148-05111v05141. PubMed
Uhrig, R. G. and Moorhead, G. B. G. (2011). Two ancient bacterial-like PPP family phosphatases from Arabidopsis thaliana are highly conserved plant proteins that possess unique properties. Plant Physiology. PubMed
Larance, M., Kirkwood, K. J., et al. (2011). Characterization of MRFAP1 Turnover and Interactions Downstream of the NEDD8 Pathway. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. PubMed
Hattersley, N., Shen, L., et al. (2011). The SUMO protease SENP6 is a direct regulator of PML nuclear bodies. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 22: 78-90. PubMed
Rancz, E. A., Franks, K. M., et al. (2011). Transfection via whole-cell recording in vivo: bridging single-cell physiology, genetics and connectomics. Nature Neuroscience. 14: 527-532. PubMed
Palmer, C. S., Osellame, L. D., et al. (2011). MiD49 and MiD51, new components of the mitochondrial fission machinery. EMBO reports. 12: 565-573. PubMed
Pichler, G., Wolf, P., et al. (2011). Cooperative DNA and histone binding by Uhrf2 links the two major repressive epigenetic pathways. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. 112: 2585-2593. PubMed
Mitchell, L., Lau, A., et al. (2011). Regulation of Septin Dynamics by the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Lysine Acetyltransferase NuA4. PLoS One. 6: e25336. PubMed
Engeland, C. E., Oberwinkler, H., et al. (2011). The cellular protein Lyric interacts with HIV-1 Gag. Journal of virology. JVI. 00174-00111v00171. PubMed
Wang, C. and Youle, R. (2011). Predominant requirement of Bax for apoptosis in HCT116 cells is determined by Mcl-1’s inhibitory effect on Bak. Oncogene. PubMed
Tulloch, L. B., Howie, J., et al. (2011). The inhibitory effect of phospholemman on the sodium pump requires its palmitoylation. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286: 36020-36031. PubMed
Sun, L. and Wang, C. C. (2011). The Structural Basis of Localizing Polo-Like Kinase to the Flagellum Attachment Zone in Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS One. 6: e27303. PubMed
Bouttier, M., Saumet, A., et al. (2011). Retroviral GAG proteins recruit AGO2 on viral RNAs without affecting RNA accumulation and translation. Nucleic acids research. PubMed
Matos, J., Blanco, M. G., et al. (2011). Regulatory Control of the Resolution of DNA Recombination Intermediates during Meiosis and Mitosis. Cell. 147: 158-172. PubMed
Nagel, C. H., Albrecht, N., et al. (2011). Herpes Simplex Virus Immediate-Early Protein ICP0 Is Targeted by SIAH-1 for Proteasomal Degradation. Journal of virology. 85: 7644. PubMed
Studencka, M., Konzer, A., et al. (2011). Novel roles of C. elegans heterochromatin protein HP1 and linker histone in the regulation of innate immune gene expression. Molecular and Cellular Biology.PubMed
Muehlen, S., Ruchaud-Sparagano, M. H., et al. (2011). Proteasome-independent Degradation of Canonical NFŒ?B Complex Components by the NleC Protein of Pathogenic Escherichia coli. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286: 5100. PubMed
Galan, J. A., Paris, L. L., et al. (2011). Proteomic Studies of Syk-Interacting Proteins Using a Novel Amine-Specific Isotope Tag and GFP Nanotrap. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. 1-10. PubMed
Chamousset, D., De Wever, V., et al. (2010). RRP1B Targets PP1 to Mammalian Cell Nucleoli and is Associated with Pre-60S Ribosomal Subunits. Mol Biol Cell. PubMed
Kovacs, E. M., Verma, S., et al. (2011). N-WASP regulates the epithelial junctional actin cytoskeleton through a non-canonical post-nucleation pathway. Nature Cell Biology. 13: 934-943. PubMed
Boysen, K. E. and Matuschewski, K. (2011). Arrested oocyst maturation in Plasmodium parasites lacking type II NADH: ubiquinone dehydrogenase. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286: 32661-32671. PubMed
Mortusewicz, O., Fouquerel, E., et al. (2011). PARG is recruited to DNA damage sites through poly (ADP-ribose)-and PCNA-dependent mechanisms. Nucleic acids research. 39: 5045. PubMed
Graewe, S., Rankin, K. E., et al. (2011). Hostile takeover by Plasmodium: reorganization of parasite and host cell membranes during liver stage egress. PLoS Pathogens. 7: e1002224. PubMed
Yang, X. D., Huang, S., et al. (2011). Distinct and mutually inhibitory binding by two divergent Œ?-catenins coordinates TCF levels and activity in C. elegans. Development. 138: 4255-4265. PubMed
Pollithy, A., Romer, T., et al. (2011). Magnetosome expression of functional camelid antibody fragments (nanobodies) in Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense. Applied and environmental microbiology. 77: 6165-6171. PubMed
Kozubowski, L., Thompson, J. W., et al. (2011). Association of Calcineurin with the COPI Protein Sec28 and the COPII Protein Sec13 Revealed by Quantitative Proteomics. PLoS One. 6: e25280. PubMed
Garcia-Gomez, J. J., Lebaron, S., et al. (2011). Dynamics of the putative RNA helicase Spb4 during ribosome assembly in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 31: 4156-4164. PubMed
Van Damme, D., Gadeyne, A., et al. (2011). Adaptin-like protein TPLATE and clathrin recruitment during plant somatic cytokinesis occurs via two distinct pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108: 615. PubMed
Qvist, P., Huertas, P., et al. (2011). CtIP Mutations Cause Seckel and Jawad Syndromes. PLoS Genetics. 7: e1002310. PubMed
Labella, S., Woglar, A., et al. (2011). Polo Kinases Establish Links between Meiotic Chromosomes and Cytoskeletal Forces Essential for Homolog Pairing. Developmental Cell. PubMed
Harterink, M., Port, F., et al. (2011). A SNX3-dependent retromer pathway mediates retrograde transport of the Wnt sorting receptor Wntless and is required for Wnt secretion. Nature Cell Biology. 13: 914-923. PubMed
Konopacki, F. A., Jaafari, N., et al. (2011). Agonist-induced PKC phosphorylation regulates GluK2 SUMOylation and kainate receptor endocytosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.PubMed
Chuhma, N., Tanaka, K. F., et al. (2011). Functional connectome of the striatal medium spiny neuron. The Journal of Neuroscience. 31: 1183-1192. PubMed
Jackson, B. R., Boyne, J. R., et al. (2011). An Interaction between KSHV ORF57 and UIF Provides mRNA-Adaptor Redundancy in Herpesvirus Intronless mRNA Export. PLoS Pathogens. 7: e1002138. PubMed
The ballot is in—among the “usual suspect” hot topics, iPS takes the top honor and most entries; Camelid antibodies, although not really presented as a typical AlleleBlog in 2011, made it to the top 3. shRNA cloning and RNAi screening are still on a lot of people’s minds, so it seems.
Method: total visits to each blog since our new webpage was launched in July was counted.
1) Fusion of the Transcription Domain to iPS Factors Radically Enhances Reprogramming
2) Methods of iPSC Generation Update
3) About 50 Papers Cited the Use of GFP-Trap Camelid Antibody So Far in 2011
4) Big Potential in Using Protozoans for Producing Mammalian Proteins
5) How do you make shRNA-expressing viruses for function screening?
6) Creating ground-state human iPSCs
7) Recombinase-Mediated Cassette Exchange (RMCE) and Integrase Swappable in vivo Targeting Element (InSITE)
8) Development of Cell Lines from iPSCs for Bioassays
9) Choosing siRNA, shRNA, and miRNA for Gene Silencing
10) Allele Biotech’s Box Swap Program
Have a successful 2012!
With their ability to quantitatively pulldown GFP-tagged proteins, GFP-Trap (or RFP-Trap for DsRed-derived fluorescent proteins) beads have gained ground in becoming the reagent of choice for immuno-coprecipitation. The complexes isolated from GFP-Trap agarose or magnetic beads can be easily analyzed without interference from light or heavy IgG chains typically present after monoclonal or polyclonal antibody precipitation. Since the market launch of GFP-Trap, in each of the past 3 years, the number of publications citing GFP-Trap more has than doubled and there is no sign of that rate slowing down any time soon.
In 2011 alone, 48 research groups have published their results with data generated through use of GFP-Trap (not including other related products such as GFP-Booster, GFP-MultiTrap). Research topics in these recent publications include identification of domains of the zinc finger protein 638 (ZNF638) that interacts with C/EBPb when promoting adipocyte differentiation ; identification of phosphorylation site on Cdc42-associated kinase (Ack) by LC-MS/MS after immunoprecipitation ; and analysis of the activities of myosin heavy-chain kinases (MHCKs) in wild-type vs Htt mutant Dictyostelium discoideum, a cellular model for studying the Huntingon disease .
The use of GFP-Trap beads is a simple bind-wash-elute procedure that involves just one antibody already immobilized on either agarose or magnetic beads. Camelid antibodies, especially their VHH single domain fragments such as those used in GFP-Trap or RFP-Trap, are very stable (they can be shipped and temporarily stored at room temperature). The consistency of performance is very high; as a matter of fact, this line of products requires the lowest amount of technical support among all of our products. If you are still using tags like FLAG, V5, HA, etc., you should consider trying GFP as both a fluorescence and co-IP tag in your future experiments for obtaining results you previously could not obtain.
New Product of the Week: Non-Integrating iPSC Generation Kits. First of its kind on the market. Click to read more about mRNA-based reprogramming.
Promotion of the Week: Save 15% to save the environment by using EcoCulture Dishes at 30% less plastic for better imaging. Code: 091911DISH when call or email us.
 Meruvu, S. et al. “Regulation of Adipocyte Differentiation by the Zinc Finger Protein ZNF638” JBC 2011
 Shen, H. et al. “Constitutive activated Cdc42-associated kinase (Ack) phosphorylation at arrested endocytic clathrin-coated pits of cells that lack dynamin” Molecular Biology of the Cell 2011
 Wang, Y. et al. “Dictyostelium huntingtin controls chemotaxis and cytokinesis through the regulation of myosin II phosphorylation” Molecular Biology of the Cell 2011
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