An in vitro compartmentalization-based method for the selection of bond-forming enzymes from large libraries

Paul Gianella, Erik L. Snapp, Matthew Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


We have developed a generalized in vitro compartmentalization-based bead display selection strategy that allows for the identification of enzymes that can perform ligation reactions. Although a number of methods have been developed to evolve such enzymes, many of them are limited in library size (106-107), do not select for enzymes using a scheme that allows for multiple turnover, or only work on enzymes specific to nucleic acids. This approach is amenable to screening libraries of up to 1012 protein variants by allowing beads to be overloaded with up to 104 unique mutants. Using this approach we isolated a variant of sortase A from Staphylococcus aureus that shows a 114-fold enhancement in kcat/KM in the absence of calcium compared to the wild-type and improved resistance to the inhibitory effects of cell lysates. Unlike the wild-type protein, the newly selected variant shows intracellular activity in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells where it may prove useful for intracellular labeling or synthetic biological applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Biotin protein ligase (BirA)
  • Directed evolution
  • FACS
  • In vitro compartmentalization
  • Microbead display
  • Sortase A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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