Artificial binding proteins are also referred to as the next-generation antibodies.1,2 Based on novel scaffold proteins they can circumvent some problems that antibodies are faced with today when applied in fields like medicine or biotechnology. The scaffold proteins can be chosen to:

- be highly thermodynamically stable and free of disulfide bonds
- be easily producible in prokaryotes, e.g. E. coli
- have low molecular weight

By protein engineering and evolutionary selection techniques we are able to equip the scaffold proteins with the desired binding specificities. To achieve this we start from creating a protein variant library by randomizing the surface of the scaffold proteins. This either generates a de novo binding patch or alters an existing patch. The library is subsequently screened for binding activity against specific targets by evolutionary selection methods, e.g. ribosome display or phage display. Applications for such selected artificial binding proteins can be found for example in therapy, diagnostics and research.

We aim to integrate optimized existing and novel innovative methods into a complete technology platform which can then be used for the routine creation of artificial binding proteins. Our work will also give us a deeper insight into molecular principles influencing protein-protein interactions as well as protein folding and stability.

The Projects


Selection and screening of libraries as well as production and purification of the so-called hit-variants is extremely suited for automation. Optimized automation protocols allow a high through-put in these steps and in return create large amounts of data on biochemical and biophysical properties of selected proteins.

Selection systems

Different selection systems (ribosome display, various phage display methods) are analyzed for selection efficiency and characteristics of the selected binding proteins (affinity, solubility and thermodynamical stability). With the aquired data we are able to optimise the selection procedure.


Chemical and genetical fusion methods are analyzed for advantages and disadvantages in ease of handling, avidity effects and other characteristics.

Scaffolds & Library design

The scaffolds we evaluate and use currently are the human gamma-Crystallin3 and the thermodynamically extremely stable computationally designed protein M7.4,5 Various library formats are developed for selection of artificial binding proteins.

1 Thomas Hey, Erik Fiedler, Rainer Rudolph and Markus Fiedler (2005). "Artificial, non-antibody binding proteins for pharmaceutical and industrial applications." Trends in Biotechnology 23(10): 514-522.

2 H. Kaspar Binz, Patrick Amstutz & Andreas Plückthun (2005). "Engineering novel binding proteins from nonimmunoglobulin domains." Nature Biotechnology 23(10): 1257-1268.

3 Hilmar Ebersbach, Erik Fiedler, Tanja Scheuermann, Markus Fiedler, Milton T. Stubbs, Carola Reimann, Gabriele Proetzel, Rainer Rudolph and Ulrike Fiedler (2007). "Affilin–Novel Binding Molecules Based on Human γ-B-Crystallin, an All β-Sheet Protein." Journal of Molecular Biology 372(1): 172-185.

4 Roman Dallüge, Jan Oschmann, Olaf Birkenmeier, Christian Lücke, Hauke Lilie, Rainer Rudolph, and Christian Lange (2007). "A tetrapeptide fragment-based design method results in highly stable artificial proteins." Proteins 68(4): 839-49.

5 Claudius Stordeur, Roman Dallüge, Olaf Birkenmeier, Hans Wienk, Rainer Rudolph, Christian Lange, Christian Lücke (2008). "The NMR solution structure of the artificial protein M7 matches the computationally designed model." Proteins.[Epub ahead of print; DOI: 10.1002/prot.22107].