Simple method to prepare oligonucleotide-conjugated antibodies and its application in multiplex protein detection in single cells

Gong, H., Holcomb, I., Ooi, A.

The diversity of nucleic acid sequences enables genomics studies in a highly multiplexed format. Since multiplex protein detection is still a challenge, it would be useful to use genomics tools for this purpose. This can be accomplished by conjugating specific oligonucleotides to antibodies. Upon binding of the oligonucleotide-conjugated antibodies to their targets, the protein levels can be converted to oligonucleotide levels. In this report we describe a simple method for preparing oligonucleotide-conjugated antibodies and discuss this method's application in oligonucleotide extension reaction (OER) for multiplex protein detection. Conjugation is based on strain-promoted alkyne-azide cycloaddition (the Cu-free click reaction), in which the antibody is activated with a dibenzocyclooctyne (DBCO) moiety and subsequently linked covalently with an azide-modified oligonucleotide. In the functional test, the reaction conditions and purification processes were optimized to achieve maximum yield and best performance. The OER assay employs a pair of antibody binders (two antibodies, each conjugated with its own oligonucleotide) developed for each protein target. The two oligonucleotides contain unique six-base complementary regions at their 3' prime ends to allow annealing and extension by DNA synthesis enzymes to form a DNA template. Following preamplification, the DNA template is detected by qPCR. Distinct oligonucleotide sequences are assigned to different antibody binders to enable multiplex protein detection. When tested using recombinant proteins, some antibody binders, such as those specific to CSTB, MET, EpCAM, and CASP3, had dynamic ranges of 5-6 logs. The antibody binders were also used in a multiplexed format in OER assays, and the binders successfully detected their protein targets in cell lysates, and in single cells in combination with the C1™ system. This click reaction-based antibody conjugation procedure is cost-effective, needs minimal hands-on time, and is well-suited for the development of affordable multiplex protein assays, which provides the potential to accelerate proteomics research.


Gong, H., Holcomb, I., Ooi, A. "Simple method to prepare oligonucleotide-conjugated antibodies and its application in multiplex protein detection in single cells" Bioconjugate Chemistry (2016): 217–25