The protein invasin expressed on the cell surface of the pathogenic bacteria Yersinia pseudotuberculosis mediates the entry of this bacterium into cultured mammalian cells. We have developed a system for expression of random peptides on the cell surface of Escherichia coli (E. coli) by creation of a fusion hybrid between a peptide and the invasin protein. The fusion protein constructs consist of part of the outer membrane domain of the invasin protein, six proline spacers, and a decamer of random peptides flanked by cysteine residues (CX10C). Peptides were constitutively expressed on the cell surface in the resulting random decamer peptide library, which we designated as ESPEL (E. coli Surface Peptide Expression Library). The ESPEL was systematically screened for its binding affinity toward human cultured cells. Several bacterial clones were identified whose binding to human cells was mediated by peptides expressed on the bacterial cell surface. Flow cytometric analysis showed that both the identified bacterial clones and these corresponding chemically synthesized peptides bound to human cells specifically. The techniques described provide a new method that uses E. coli random peptide library to select targeting peptides for mammalian cells without any knowledge of the human cellular receptors.
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