Cell surface display of functional human MHC class II proteins: Yeast display versus insect cell display

Fei Wen, Dhruv K. Sethi, Kai W. Wucherpfennig, Huimin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reliable and robust systems for engineering functional major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII) proteins have proved elusive. Availability of such systems would enable the engineering of peptide-MHCII (pMHCII) complexes for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. In this paper, we have developed a system based on insect cell surface display that allows functional expression of heterodimeric DR2 molecules with or without a covalently bound human myelin basic protein (MBP) peptide, which is amenable to directed evolution of DR2-MBP variants with improved T cell receptor (TCR)-binding affinity. This study represents the first example of functional display of human pMHCII complexes on insect cell surface. In the process of developing this pMHCII engineering system, we have also explored the potential of using yeast surface display for the same application. Our data suggest that yeast display is a useful system for analysis and engineering of peptide binding of MHCII proteins, but not suitable for directed evolution of pMHC complexes that bind with low affinity to self-reactive TCRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-709
Number of pages9
JournalProtein Engineering, Design and Selection
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • directed evolution
  • DR2-myelin basic protein (MBP)
  • insect cell display
  • major histocompatibility complex (MHC)
  • yeast display

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Molecular Biology


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