Avital-Shmilovici, M., Liu, X., Shaler, T., Lowenthal, A., Bourbon, P., Snider, J., … & Collins, N. (2022). Mega-High-Throughput Screening Platform for the Discovery of Biologically Relevant Sequence-Defined Non-Natural Polymers. ACS Central Science, 8(1), 86-101.
Combinatorial methods enable the synthesis of chemical libraries on scales of millions to billions of compounds, but the ability to efficiently screen and sequence such large libraries has remained a major bottleneck for molecular discovery. We developed a novel technology for screening and sequencing libraries of synthetic molecules of up to a billion compounds in size. This platform utilizes the fiber-optic array scanning technology (FAST) to screen bead-based libraries of synthetic compounds at a rate of 5 million compounds per minute (∼83 000 Hz). This ultra-high-throughput screening platform has been used to screen libraries of synthetic “self-readable” non-natural polymers that can be sequenced at the femtomole scale by chemical fragmentation and high-resolution mass spectrometry. The versatility and throughput of the platform were demonstrated by screening two libraries of non-natural polyamide polymers with sizes of 1.77M and 1B compounds against the protein targets K-Ras, asialoglycoprotein receptor 1 (ASGPR), IL-6, IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), and TNFα. Hits with low nanomolar binding affinities were found against all targets, including competitive inhibitors of K-Ras binding to Raf and functionally active uptake ligands for ASGPR facilitating intracellular delivery of a nonglycan ligand.