The most exciting potential of phage displayed peptide libraries is to obtain small peptide molecules that mimic an antigen, at least with respect to a particular epitope. In addition to their interest as research tools, such mimotopes could in principle be useful as diagnostic tools or for eliciting antibodies to a predefined epitope. However, the reduction of the phage insert sequence to a short peptide that can compete with the antigenic and in particular with the immunogenic properties of the natural antigen faces considerable difficulties. This review assesses critically the antigenicity of phage displayed peptides as free peptides and in different molecular environments. The difficulties to use mimotopes to induce antibodies that bind to the natural antigen (crossreactive immunogenicity) and the considerable discrepancy between antigenicity and immunogenicity of phage-derived peptides are discussed. Peptides selected with antibodies from phage displayed random peptide libraries have raised considerable expectations as low molecular weight substitutes of the natural antigen. This review will focus on the results of phage displayed random peptide libraries screened with antibodies specific for proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids and critically examine how the above expectations have been met.
Keywords: Immunogenic Phage, Displayed Mimotopes, circular DNA, peptide libraries, protein specific MABS, Phage mimotopes, multivalent constructs, KLH coupled, antigenicity, multimerization, autoimmune specific, cancer therapy
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