Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States each year and is a leading cause of death and disability for children and young adults in industrialized countries. Unfortunately, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of injury progression have yet to be fully elucidated. Consequently, this complexity impacts the development of accurate diagnosis and treatment options. Biomarkers, objective signatures of injury, can inform and facilitate development of sensitive and specific theranostic devices. Discovery techniques that take advantage of mining the temporal complexity of TBI are critical for the identification of high specificity biomarkers.
Domain antibody fragment (dAb) phage display, a powerful screening technique to uncover protein-protein interactions, has been applied to biomarker discovery in various cancers and more recently, neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and stroke. The small size of dAbs (12-15 kDa) and ability to screen against brain vasculature make them ideal for interacting with the neural milieu in vivo. Despite these characteristics, implementation of dAb phage display to elucidate temporal mechanisms of TBI has yet to reach its full potential.
My dissertation employs a unique target identification pipeline that entails in vivo dAb phage display and next generation sequencing (NGS) analysis to screen for temporal biomarkers of TBI. Using a mouse model of controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury, targeting motifs were designed based on the heavy complementarity determining region (HCDR3) structure of dAbs with preferential binding to acute (1 day) and subacute (7 days) post-injury timepoints. Bioreactivity for these two constructs was validated via immunohistochemistry. Further, immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry analysis identified temporally distinct candidate biological targets in brain tissue lysate.
The pipeline of phage display followed by NGS analysis demonstrated a unique approach to discover motifs that are sensitive to the heterogeneous and diverse pathology caused by neural injury. This strategy successfully achieves 1) target motif identification for TBI at distinct timepoints and 2) characterization of their spatiotemporal specificity.
- Domain Antibody Fragment Phage Display as a Biomarker Discovery Tool for Traumatic Brain Injury