Capillary electrophoretic mobility shift displacement assay for the assessment of weak drug-protein interactions

E. Farcaş, J. Hanson, L. Pochet, M. Fillet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Only few reports describe the use of capillary electrophoresis in the context of Fragment Based Drug Discovery (FBDD). In this paper, we will present a generic, fully automated, microscale electrophoretic mobility shift displacement assay that can be used in FBDD for primary screening of weak biomolecular interactions between fragments and target protein. The accuracy and reliability of the present method was demonstrated by measuring the IC50 value of two known fragments inhibiting thrombin, namely benzamidine and p-aminobenzamidine and a relatively weak inhibitor, nafamostat. Furthermore, we built a small chemical library to evaluate the performance and the advantage of our newly developed screening-bioassay compared to the direct affinity capillary electrophoresis-binding assay. The results demonstrate the high discriminatory power of the method and above all its ability to screen neutral, negatively or positively charged molecules, as well as molecules that have no or low UV-VIS absorbance, greatly expanding the scope of the assay. Finally, we proved that this approach is able to discriminate between reversible and irreversible binders. Altogether, this work demonstrates that capillary electrophoresis could constitute an important added value in the arsenal used to screen fragments in drug discovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-222
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytica chimica acta
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018


  • Affinity capillary electrophoresis
  • Binding assay
  • Fragment-based drug discovery
  • Weak interaction drug-target


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