Before setting up Cambridge Protein Arrays in 2010, we developed the "DNA array to protein array" (DAPA) technology, which creates protein arrays by direct 'printing' from DNA arrays using cell-free protein expression systems. (He M, Stoevesandt O, Palmer EA, Khan F, Ericsson O, Taussig MJ. Printing protein arrays from DNA arrays. Nature Methods. 2008 5:175-7.)
The basis of this method is that a template DNA array on one glass slide is sandwiched with a second, protein-capture slide, and cell-free protein synthesis is performed in a narrow gap between the two surfaces. Individual proteins synthesised in parallel from the arrayed DNA become immobilised through interaction with the protein-capturing reagent on the opposite surface. The result is a protein array replica of the DNA array, with good reproducibility and spot quality, as shown. DAPA makes possible the generation of protein arrays as and when required, in a single in situ reaction. By linking gene sequence data to protein expression, DAPA is an enabling technology for individualised or personalised proteomics. Similar methods were developed and taken forward to a sub-proteome scale by others (e.g. Ramachandran N, et al. Self-assembling protein microarrays. Science 2004; 305:86-90).