Sci Rep. 2018 May 8;8(1):7136. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-25609-z

Rajesh Vij, Zhonghua Lin, Nancy Chiang, Jean-Michel Vernes, Kelly M. Storek, Summer Park, Joyce Chan, Y. Gloria Meng, Laetitia Comps-Agrar, Peng Luan, Sophia Lee, Kellen Schneider, Jack Bevers III, Inna Zilberleyb, Christine Tam, Christopher M. Koth, Min Xu, Avinash Gill, Marcy R. Auerbach, Peter A. Smith, Steven T. Rutherford, Gerald Nakamura, Dhaya Seshasayee, Jian Payandeh & James T. Koerber

Abstract
Outer membrane proteins (OMPs) in Gram-negative bacteria are essential for a number of cellular functions including nutrient transport and drug efflux. Escherichia coli BamA is an essential component of the OMP β-barrel assembly machinery and a potential novel antibacterial target that has been proposed to undergo large (~15 Å) conformational changes. Here, we explored methods to isolate anti-BamA monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that might alter the function of this OMP and ultimately lead to bacterial growth inhibition. We first optimized traditional immunization approaches but failed to identify mAbs that altered cell growth after screening >3000 hybridomas. We then developed a “targeted boost-and-sort” strategy that combines bacterial cell immunizations, purified BamA protein boosts, and single hybridoma cell sorting using amphipol-reconstituted BamA antigen. This unique workflow improves the discovery efficiency of FACS + mAbs by >600-fold and enabled the identification of rare anti-BamA mAbs with bacterial growth inhibitory activity in the presence of a truncated lipopolysaccharide layer. These mAbs represent novel tools for dissecting the BamA-mediated mechanism of β-barrel folding and our workflow establishes a new template for the efficient discovery of novel mAbs against other highly dynamic membrane proteins.

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