Expression cloning of camelid nanobodies specific for xenopus embryonic antigens

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Developmental biology relies heavily on the use of conventional antibodies, but their production and maintenance involves significant effort. Here we use an expression cloning approach to identify variable regions of llama single domain antibodies (known as nanobodies), which recognize specific embryonic antigens. A nanobody cDNA library was prepared from lymphocytes of a llama immunized with Xenopus embryo lysates. Pools of bacterially expressed cDNAs were sib-selected for the ability to produce specific staining patterns in gastrula embryos. Three different nanobodies were isolated: NbP1 and NbP3 stained yolk granules, while the reactivity of NbP7 was predominantly restricted to the cytoplasm and the cortex. The isolated nanobodies recognized specific protein bands in immunoblot analysis. A reverse proteomic approach identified NbP1 target antigen as EP45/Seryp, a serine protease inhibitor. Given the unique stability of nanobodies and the ease of their expression in diverse systems, we propose that nanobody cDNA libraries represent a promising resource for molecular markers for developmental biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere107521
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 6 Oct 2014


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