Assessing the tendency of fluorescent proteins to oligomerize under physiologic conditions.
ABSTRACT: Several fluorescent proteins (FPs) are prone to forming low-affinity oligomers. This undesirable tendency is exacerbated when FPs are confined to membranes or when fused to naturally oligomeric proteins. Oligomerization of FPs limits their suitability for creating fusions with proteins of interest. Unfortunately, no standardized method evaluates the biologically relevant oligomeric state of FPs. Here, we describe a quantitative visual assay for assessing whether FPs are sufficiently monomeric under physiologic conditions. Membrane-associated FP-fusion proteins, by virtue of their constrained planar geometry, achieve high effective concentrations. We exploited this propensity to develop an assay to measure FP tendencies to oligomerize in cells. FPs were fused on the cytoplasmic end of an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) signal-anchor membrane protein (CytERM) and expressed in cells. Cells were scored based on the ability of CytERM to homo-oligomerize with proteins on apposing membranes and restructure the ER from a tubular network into organized smooth ER (OSER) whorl structures. The ratio of nuclear envelope and OSER structures mean fluorescent intensities for cells expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) or monomeric green fluorescent protein (mGFP) CytERM established standards for comparison of uncharacterized FPs. We tested three FPs and identified two as sufficiently monomeric, while a third previously reported as monomeric was found to strongly oligomerize.
Project description:The tendency for tetramerization is the main disadvantage in the green fluorescent protein homologues from Anthozoa species. We report a universal method called hetero-oligomeric tagging, which diminishes troublesome consequences of tetramerization of Anthozoa-derived fluorescent proteins (FP) in intracellular protein labelling. This approach is based on the co-expression of the FP-tagged protein of interest together with an excess of free non-fluorescent FP mutant. The resulting FP heterotetramers contain only a single target polypeptide and, therefore, can be considered pseudo-monomeric. Feasibility of the method has been demonstrated with a red FP fused with cytoplasmic beta-actin or tubulin-binding protein Tau34. In addition, heterotetramers appeared to be a unique model for biophysical characterization of Anthozoa FPs in pseudo-monomeric state.
Project description:GFP (green fluorescent protein)-based FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) technology has facilitated the exploration of the spatio-temporal patterns of cellular signalling. While most studies have used cyan- and yellow-emitting FPs (fluorescent proteins) as FRET donors and acceptors respectively, this pair of proteins suffers from problems of pH-sensitivity and bleeding between channels. In the present paper, we demonstrate the use of an alternative additional donor/acceptor pair. We have cloned two genes encoding FPs from stony corals. We isolated a cyan-emitting FP from Acropara sp., whose tentacles exhibit cyan coloration. Similar to GFP from Renilla reniformis, the cyan FP forms a tight dimeric complex. We also discovered an orange-emitting FP from Fungia concinna. As the orange FP exists in a complex oligomeric structure, we converted this protein into a monomeric form through the introduction of three amino acid substitutions, recently reported to be effective for converting DsRed into a monomer (Clontech). We used the cyan FP and monomeric orange FP as a donor/acceptor pair to monitor the activity of caspase 3 during apoptosis. Due to the close spectral overlap of the donor emission and acceptor absorption (a large Förster distance), substantial pH-resistance of the donor fluorescence quantum yield and the acceptor absorbance, as well as good separation of the donor and acceptor signals, the new pair can be used for more effective quantitative FRET imaging.
Project description:Development of fluorescent proteins (FPs) enabled researchers to visualize protein localization and trafficking in living cells and organisms. The extended palette of available FPs allows simultaneous detection of multiple fluorescent fusion proteins. Importantly, FPs are originally derived from different organisms from jelly fish to corals and each FP displays its own biophysical properties. Among these properties, the tendency of FPs to oligomerize inherently affects the behavior of its fusion partner. Here we employed the budding yeast <i>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</i> to determine the impact of the latest generation of red FPs on their binding partner. We used a yeast assay based on the aggregation and toxicity of misfolded polyQ expansion proteins linked to Huntington's disease. Since polyQ aggregation and toxicity are highly dependent on the sequences flanking the polyQ region, polyQ expansions provide an ideal tool to assess the impact of FPs on their fusion partners. We found that unlike what is observed for green FP variants, yemRFP and yFusionRed-tagged polyQ expansions show reduced toxicity. However, polyQ expansions tagged with the bright synthetically engineered ymScarlet displayed severe polyQ toxicity. Our data indicate that ymScarlet might have significant advantages over the previous generation of red FPs for use in fluorescent fusions in yeast.
Project description:The ability of fluorescent proteins (FPs) to fold robustly is fundamental to the autocatalytic formation of the chromophore. While the importance of the tertiary protein structure is well appreciated, the impact of individual amino acid mutations for FPs is often not intuitive and requires direct testing. In this study, we describe the engineering of a monomeric photoswitchable FP, moxMaple3, for use in oxidizing cellular environments, especially the eukaryotic secretory pathway. Surprisingly, a point mutation to replace a cysteine substantially improved the yield of correctly folded FP capable of chromophore formation, regardless of cellular environment. The improved folding of moxMaple3 increases the fraction of visibly tagged fusion proteins, as well as FP performance in PALM super-resolution microscopy, and thus makes moxMaple3 a robust monomeric FP choice for PALM and optical highlighting applications.
Project description:The advent of fluorescent proteins (FPs) for genetic labeling of molecules and cells has revolutionized fluorescence microscopy. Genetic manipulations have created a vast array of bright and stable FPs spanning blue to red spectral regions. Common to autofluorescent FPs is their tight ?-barrel structure, which provides the rigidity and chemical environment needed for effectual fluorescence. Despite the common structure, each FP has unique properties. Thus, there is no single 'best' FP for every circumstance, and each FP has advantages and disadvantages. To guide decisions about which FP is right for a given application, we have quantitatively characterized the brightness, photostability, pH stability and monomeric properties of more than 40 FPs to enable straightforward and direct comparison between them. We focus on popular and/or top-performing FPs in each spectral region.
Project description:Green fluorescent protein (GFP) is widely used as a biomarker in living systems; however, GFP and its variants are prone to forming low-affinity dimers under physiological conditions. This undesirable tendency is exacerbated when fluorescent proteins (FP) are confined to membranes, fused to naturally-oligomeric proteins, or expressed at high levels in cells. Oligomerization of FPs introduces artifacts into the measurement of subunit stoichiometry, as well as interactions between proteins fused to FPs. Introduction of a single mutation, A206K, has been shown to disrupt hydrophobic interactions in the region responsible for GFP dimerization, thereby contributing to its monomerization. Nevertheless, a detailed understanding of how this single amino acid-dependent inhibition of dimerization in GFP occurs at the atomic level is still lacking. Single-molecule experiments combined with computational microscopy (atomistic molecular dynamics) revealed that the amino group of A206 contributes to GFP dimer formation via a multivalent electrostatic interaction. We further showed that myristoyl modification is an efficient mechanism to promote membrane attachment of GFP. Molecular dynamics-based site-directed mutagenesis has been used to identify the key functional residues in FPs. The data presented here have been utilized as a monomeric control in downstream single-molecule studies, facilitating more accurate stoichiometry quantification of functional protein complexes in living cells.
Project description:Fluorescent protein (FP) technologies suitable for use within the eukaryotic secretory pathway are essential for live cell and protein dynamic studies. Localization of FPs within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen has potentially significant consequences for FP function. All FPs are resident cytoplasmic proteins and have rarely been evolved for the chemically distinct environment of the ER lumen. In contrast to the cytoplasm, the ER lumen is oxidizing and the site where secretory proteins are post-translationally modified by disulfide bond formation and N-glycosylation on select asparagine residues. Cysteine residues and N-linked glycosylation consensus sequences were identified within many commonly utilized FPs. Here, we report mTagBFP is post-translationally modified when localized to the ER lumen. Our findings suggest these modifications can grossly affect the sensitivity and reliability of FP tools within the secretory pathway. To optimize tools for studying events in this important intracellular environment, we modified mTagBFP by mutating its cysteines and consensus N-glycosylation sites. We report successful creation of a secretory pathway-optimized blue FP, secBFP2.
Project description:Fluorescent proteins (FPs) that can be optically highlighted enable PALM super-resolution microscopy and pulse-chase experiments of cellular molecules. Most FPs evolved in cytoplasmic environments either in the original source organism or in the cytoplasm of bacteria during the course of optimization for research applications. Consequently, many FPs may fold incorrectly in the chemically distinct environments in subcellular organelles. Here, we describe the first monomeric photoswitchable (from green to bright red) FP adapted for oxidizing environments.
Project description:Bright monomeric near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent proteins (FPs) are in high demand as protein tags for multicolor microscopy and in vivo imaging. Here we apply rational design to engineer a complete set of monomeric NIR FPs, which are the brightest genetically encoded NIR probes. We demonstrate that the enhanced miRFP series of NIR FPs, which combine high effective brightness in mammalian cells and monomeric state, perform well in both nanometer-scale imaging with diffraction unlimited stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy and centimeter-scale imaging in mice. In STED we achieve ~40?nm resolution in live cells. In living mice we detect ~105 fluorescent cells in deep tissues. Using spectrally distinct monomeric NIR FP variants, we perform two-color live-cell STED microscopy and two-color imaging in vivo. Having emission peaks from 670?nm to 720?nm, the next generation of miRFPs should become versatile NIR probes for multiplexed imaging across spatial scales in different modalities.
Project description:The ability to study proteins in live cells using genetically encoded fluorescent proteins (FPs) has revolutionized cell biology (1-3). Researchers have created numerous FP biosensors and optimized FPs for specific organisms and subcellular environments in a rainbow of colors (4,5). However, expressing FPs in oxidizing environments such as the eukaryotic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) or the bacterial periplasm can impair folding, thereby preventing fluorescence (6,7). A substantial fraction of enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) oligomerizes to form non-fluorescent mixed disulfides in the ER (6) and EGFP does not fluoresce in the periplasm when targeted via the SecYEG translocon (7). To overcome these obstacles, we exploited the highly efficient folding capability of superfolder GFP (sfGFP) (8). Here, we report sfGFP does not form disulfide-linked oligomers in the ER and maltose-binding protein (MBP) signal sequence (peri)-sfGFP (9) is brightly fluorescent in the periplasm of Escherichia coli. Thus, sfGFP represents an important research tool for studying resident proteins of oxidizing environments.