Off-DNA DNA-Encoded Library Affinity Screening

DNA-encoded library (DEL) technology is emerging as a key element of the small molecule discovery toolbox. Conventional DEL screens (i.e., on-DNA screening) interrogate large combinatorial libraries via affinity selection of DNA-tagged library members that are ligands of a purified and immobilized protein target. In these selections, the DNA tags can materially and undesirably influence target binding and, therefore, the experiment outcome. Here, we use a solid-phase DEL and droplet-based microfluidic screening to separate the DEL member from its DNA tag (i.e., off-DNA screening), for subsequent in-droplet laser-induced fluorescence polarization (FP) detection of target binding, obviating DNA tag interference. Using the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1) as a proof-of-concept target in a droplet-scale competition-binding assay, we screened a 67 100-member solid-phase DEL of drug-like small molecules for competitive ligands of DDR1 and identified several known RTK inhibitor pharmacophores, including azaindole- and quinazolinone-containing monomers. Off-DNA DEL affinity screening with FP detection is potentially amenable to a wide array of target classes, including nucleic acid binding proteins, proteins that are difficult to overexpress and purify, or targets with no known activity assay.