BACKGROUND: Phage display technology has revolutionized the science of drug discovery by transforming the generation and manipulation of ligands, such as antibody fragments, enzymes, and peptides. The basis of this technology is the expression of recombinant proteins or peptides fused to a phage coat protein, and subsequent isolation of ligands based on a variety of catalytic, physicochemical/binding kinetic and/or biological characteristics. An incredible number of diagnostic and therapeutic domains have been successfully isolated using phage display technology. The variable domain of the New Antigen Receptors (VNAR) found in cartilaginous fish, is also amenable to phage display selection. Whilst not an antibody, VNARs are unquestionable the oldest (450 million years), and smallest antigen binding, single-domains so far identified in the vertebrate kingdom. Their role as an integral part of the adaptive immune system of sharks has been well established, enhancing our understanding of the evolutionary origins of humoral immunity and the unusual but divergent ancestry of the VNARs themselves. VNARs exhibit remarkable physicochemical properties, such as small size, stability in extreme conditions, solubility, molecular flexibility, high affinity and selectivity for target. The purpose of this review is to illustrate the important role phage display has played in the isolation and characterization of potent therapeutic and diagnostic VNAR domains.
- Adaptive immunity
- framework region
- phage display
- variable new antigen receptor