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Effenberger, Manuel; Stengl, Andreas; Schober, Kilian; Gerget, Maria; Kampick, Maximilian; Müller, Thomas R.; Schumacher, Dominik; Helma, Jonas; Leonhardt, Heinrich; Busch, Dirk H. (2019): FLEXamers: A Double Tag for Universal Generation of Versatile Peptide-MHC Multimers. In: Journal of Immunology, Vol. 202, No. 7: pp. 2164-2171
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Peptide-MHC (pMHC) multimers have become a valuable tool for immunological research, clinical immune monitoring, and immunotherapeutic applications. Biotinylated tetramers, reversible Streptamers, or dye-conjugated pMHC multimers are distinct pMHC reagents tailored for T cell identification, traceless T cell isolation, or TCR characterization, respectively. The specific applicability of each pMHC-based reagent is made possible either through conjugation of probes or reversible multimerization in separate production processes, which is laborious, time-consuming, and prone to variability between the different types of pMHC reagents. This prohibits broad implementation of different types of pMHC reagents as a standard toolbox in routine clinical immune monitoring and immunotherapy. In this article, we describe a novel method for fast and standardized generation of any pMHC multimer reagent from a single precursor ("FLEXamer"). FLEXamers unite reversible multimerization and versatile probe conjugation through a novel double tag (Strep-tag for reversibility and Tub-tag for versatile probe conjugation). We demonstrate that FLEXamers can substitute conventional pMHC reagents in all state-of-the-art applications, considerably accelerating and standardizing production without sacrificing functional performance. Although FLEXamers significantly aid the applicability of pMHC-based reagents in routine workflows, the double tag also provides a universal tool for the investigation of transient molecular interactions in general.