PepSeq: a fully in vitro platform for highly multiplexed serology using customizable DNA-barcoded peptide libraries

Sierra N. Henson, Evan A. Elko, Piotr M. Swiderski, Yong Liang, Anna L. Engelbrektson, Alejandra Piña, Annalee S. Boyle, Zane Fink, Salvatore J. Facista, Vidal Martinez, Fatima Rahee, Annabelle Brown, Erin J. Kelley, Georgia A. Nelson, Isaiah Raspet, Heather L. Mead, John A. Altin, Jason T. Ladner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


PepSeq is an in vitro platform for building and conducting highly multiplexed proteomic assays against customizable targets by using DNA-barcoded peptides. Starting with a pool of DNA oligonucleotides encoding peptides of interest, this protocol outlines a fully in vitro and massively parallel procedure for synthesizing the encoded peptides and covalently linking each to a corresponding cDNA tag. The resulting libraries of peptide/DNA conjugates can be used for highly multiplexed assays that leverage high-throughput sequencing to profile the binding or enzymatic specificities of proteins of interest. Here, we describe the implementation of PepSeq for fast and cost-effective epitope-level analysis of antibody reactivity across hundreds of thousands of peptides from <1 µl of serum or plasma input. This protocol includes the design of the DNA oligonucleotide library, synthesis of DNA-barcoded peptide constructs, binding of constructs to sample, preparation for sequencing and data analysis. Implemented in this way, PepSeq can be used for a number of applications, including fine-scale mapping of antibody epitopes and determining a subject’s pathogen exposure history. The protocol is divided into two main sections: (i) design and synthesis of DNA-barcoded peptide libraries and (ii) use of libraries for highly multiplexed serology. Once oligonucleotide templates are in hand, library synthesis takes 1–2 weeks and can provide enough material for hundreds to thousands of assays. Serological assays can be conducted in 96-well plates and generate sequencing data within a further ~4 d. A suite of software tools, including the PepSIRF package, are made available to facilitate the design of PepSeq libraries and analysis of assay data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-423
Number of pages28
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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