Development of anti-aflatoxin B1 nanobodies from a novel mutagenesis-derived synthetic library for traditional Chinese medicine and foods safety testing

Yu Ching Lee, Gar Hwa Lai, Tsai Yu Lin, Tien Sheng Tseng, Tsung Hsun Tsai, Wang Chuan Chen, Cheng Chung Lee, Keng Chang Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The main commercially available methods for detecting small molecules of mycotoxins in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and functional foods are enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and mass spectrometry. Regarding the development of diagnostic antibody reagents, effective methods for the rapid preparation of specific monoclonal antibodies are inadequate. Methods: In this study, a novel synthetic phage-displayed nanobody Golden Glove (SynaGG) library with a glove-like cavity configuration was established using phage display technology in synthetic biology. We applied this unique SynaGG library on the small molecule aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), which has strong hepatotoxicity, to isolate specific nanobodies with high affinity for AFB1. Result: These nanobodies exhibit no cross-reactivity with the hapten methotrexate, which is recognized by the original antibody template. By binding to AFB1, two nanobodies can neutralize AFB1-induced hepatocyte growth inhibition. Using molecular docking, we found that the unique non-hypervariable complementarity-determining region 4 (CDR4) loop region of the nanobody was involved in the interaction with AFB1. Specifically, the CDR4’s positively charged amino acid arginine directed the binding interaction between the nanobody and AFB1. We then rationally optimized the interaction between AFB1 and the nanobody by mutating serine at position 2 into valine. The binding affinity of the nanobody to AFB1 was effectively improved, and this result supported the use of molecular structure simulation for antibody optimization. Conclusion: In summary, this study revealed that the novel SynaGG library, which was constructed through computer-aided design, can be used to isolate nanobodies that specifically bind to small molecules. The results of this study could facilitate the development of nanobody materials to detect small molecules for the rapid screening of TCM materials and foods in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalJournal of Biological Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Aflatoxin B1
  • Glove-like cavity
  • Nanobody
  • Nonhypervariable complementarity-determining region 4 loop
  • Phage display technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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