Tryptophan-based chromophore in fluorescent proteins can be anionic.
ABSTRACT: Cyan fluorescent proteins (CFP) with tryptophan66-based chromophore are widely used for live cell imaging. In contrast to green and red fluorescent proteins, no charged states of the CFP chromophore have been described. Here, we studied synthetic CFP chromophore and found that its indole group can be deprotonated rather easily (pKa 12.4).We then reproduced this effect in the CFP mCerulean by placing basic amino acids in the chromophore microenvironment. As a result, green-emitting variant with an anionic chromophore and key substitution Val61Lys was obtained. This is the first evidence strongly suggesting that tryptophan-based chromophores in fluorescent proteins can exist in an anionic charged state. Switching between protonated and deprotonated Trp66 in fluorescent proteins represents a new unexplored way to control their spectral properties.
Project description:A green-emitting fluorescent variant, NowGFP, with a tryptophan-based chromophore (Thr65-Trp66-Gly67) was recently developed from the cyan mCerulean by introducing 18 point mutations. NowGFP is characterized by bright green fluorescence at physiological and higher pH and by weak cyan fluorescence at low pH. Illumination with blue light induces irreversible photoconversion of NowGFP from a green-emitting to a cyan-emitting form. Here, the X-ray structures of intact NowGFP at pH 9.0 and pH 4.8 and of its photoconverted variant, NowGFP_conv, are reported at 1.35, 1.18 and 2.5 Å resolution, respectively. The structure of NowGFP at pH 9.0 suggests the anionic state of Trp66 of the chromophore to be the primary cause of its green fluorescence. At both examined pH values Trp66 predominantly adopted a cis conformation; only ? 20% of the trans conformation was observed at pH 4.8. It was shown that Lys61, which adopts two distinct pH-dependent conformations, is a key residue playing a central role in chromophore ionization. At high pH the side chain of Lys61 forms two hydrogen bonds, one to the indole N atom of Trp66 and the other to the carboxyl group of the catalytic Glu222, enabling an indirect noncovalent connection between them that in turn promotes Trp66 deprotonation. At low pH, the side chain of Lys61 is directed away from Trp66 and forms a hydrogen bond to Gln207. It has been shown that photoconversion of NowGFP is accompanied by decomposition of Lys61, with a predominant cleavage of its side chain at the C(?)-C(?) bond. Lys61, Glu222, Thr203 and Ser205 form a local hydrogen-bond network connected to the indole ring of the chromophore Trp66; mutation of any of these residues dramatically affects the spectral properties of NowGFP. On the other hand, an Ala150Val replacement in the vicinity of the chromophore indole ring resulted in a new advanced variant with a 2.5-fold improved photostability.
Project description:Phototoxic fluorescent proteins represent a sparse group of genetically encoded photosensitizers that could be used for precise light-induced inactivation of target proteins, DNA damage, and cell killing. Only two such GFP-based fluorescent proteins (FPs), KillerRed and its monomeric variant SuperNova, were described up to date. Here, we present a crystallographic study of their two orange successors, dimeric KillerOrange and monomeric mKillerOrange, at 1.81 and 1.57 Å resolution, respectively. They are the first orange-emitting protein photosensitizers with a tryptophan-based chromophore (Gln65-Trp66-Gly67). Same as their red progenitors, both orange photosensitizers have a water-filled channel connecting the chromophore to the ?-barrel exterior and enabling transport of ROS. In both proteins, Trp66 of the chromophore adopts an unusual trans-cis conformation stabilized by H-bond with the nearby Gln159. This trans-cis conformation along with the water channel was shown to be a key structural feature providing bright orange emission and phototoxicity of both examined orange photosensitizers.
Project description:Enhanced cyan fluorescent protein (ECFP) was derived from Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (avGFP), notably with S65T/Y66W mutations. Its chromophore consists of a tripeptide comprised of Thr65, Trp66 and Gly67 (TWG) residues, while that of avGFP consists of a Ser65, Tyr66 and Gly67 (SYG) tripeptide. Cerulean and SCFP3A were derived from ECFP-S72A/H148D (a double mutation) with additional Y145A and S175G mutations, respectively, while Cerulean-S175G has both mutations (Y145A and S175G). The crystal structures of these ECFP variants at neutral pH were reported to adopt two distinct major conformations called ECFP and Cerulean. In this study, Cerulean-S175G was revealed to adopt only the Cerulean conformation, while Cerulean has been reported to adopt both the ECFP and the Cerulean conformations in its crystal structures. Sharing the same S175G mutation with SCFP3A, Cerulean-S175G showed a slightly increased quantum yield, like SCFP3A, but did not adopt the ECFP conformation adopted by SCFP3A. Detailed comparison of Cerulean-S175G and other ECFP variants revealed that the notable conformational changes in ECFP variants can be understood mainly in terms of the interaction between the Trp66 residue of the chromophore and residues 145-148 of ?-strand 7.
Project description:A recently engineered mutant of cyan fluorescent protein (WasCFP) that exhibits pH-dependent absorption suggests that its tryptophan-based chromophore switches between neutral (protonated) and charged (deprotonated) states depending on external pH. At pH 8.1, the latter gives rise to green fluorescence as opposed to the cyan color of emission that is characteristic for the neutral form at low pH. Given the high energy cost of deprotonating the tryptophan at the indole nitrogen, this behavior is puzzling, even if the stabilizing effect of the V61K mutation in proximity to the protonation/deprotonation site is considered. Because of its potential to open new avenues for the development of optical sensors and photoconvertible fluorescent proteins, a mechanistic understanding of how the charged state in WasCFP can possibly be stabilized is thus important. Attributed to the dynamic nature of proteins, such understanding often requires knowledge of the various conformations adopted, including transiently populated conformational states. Transient conformational states triggered by pH are of emerging interest and have been shown to be important whenever ionizable groups interact with hydrophobic environments. Using a combination of the weighted-ensemble sampling method and explicit-solvent constant pH molecular dynamics (CPHMD(MS?D)) simulations, we have identified a solvated transient state, characterized by a partially open ?-barrel where the chromophore pKa of 6.8 is shifted by over 20 units from that of the closed form (6.8 and 31.7, respectively). This state contributes a small population at low pH (12% at pH 6.1) but becomes dominant at mildly basic conditions, contributing as much as 53% at pH 8.1. This pH-dependent population shift between neutral (at pH 6.1) and charged (at pH 8.1) forms is thus responsible for the observed absorption behavior of WasCFP. Our findings demonstrate the conditions necessary to stabilize the charged state of the WasCFP chromophore (namely, local solvation at the deprotonation site and a partial flexibility of the protein ?-barrel structure) and provide the first evidence that transient conformational states can control optical properties of fluorescent proteins.
Project description:Spectral diversity of fluorescent proteins, crucial for multiparameter imaging, is based mainly on chemical diversity of their chromophores. Recently we have reported, to our knowledge, a new green fluorescent protein WasCFP-the first fluorescent protein with a tryptophan-based chromophore in the anionic state. However, only a small portion of WasCFP molecules exists in the anionic state at physiological conditions. In this study we report on an improved variant of WasCFP, named NowGFP, with the anionic form dominating at 37°C and neutral pH. It is 30% brighter than enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) and exhibits a fluorescence lifetime of 5.1 ns. We demonstrated that signals of NowGFP and EGFP can be clearly distinguished by fluorescence lifetime in various models, including mammalian cells, mouse tumor xenograft, and Drosophila larvae. NowGFP thus provides an additional channel for multiparameter fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy of green fluorescent proteins.
Project description:We used a red chromophore formation pathway, in which the anionic red chromophore is formed from the neutral blue intermediate, to suggest a rational design strategy to develop blue fluorescent proteins with a tyrosine-based chromophore. The strategy was applied to red fluorescent proteins of the different genetic backgrounds, such as TagRFP, mCherry, HcRed1, M355NA, and mKeima, which all were converted into blue probes. Further improvement of the blue variant of TagRFP by random mutagenesis resulted in an enhanced monomeric protein, mTagBFP, characterized by the substantially higher brightness, the faster chromophore maturation, and the higher pH stability than blue fluorescent proteins with a histidine in the chromophore. The detailed biochemical and photochemical analysis indicates that mTagBFP is the true monomeric protein tag for multicolor and lifetime imaging, as well as the outstanding donor for green fluorescent proteins in Förster resonance energy transfer applications.
Project description:Wild type green fluorescent protein (wt-GFP) and the variant S65T/H148D each exhibit two absorption bands, A and B, which are associated with the protonated and deprotonated chromophores, respectively. Excitation of either band leads to green emission. In wt-GFP, excitation of band A ( approximately 395 nm) leads to green emission with a rise time of 10-15 ps, due to excited-state proton transfer (ESPT) from the chromophore hydroxyl group to an acceptor. This process produces an anionic excited-state intermediate I* that subsequently emits a green photon. In the variant S65T/H148D, the A band absorbance maximum is red-shifted to approximately 415 nm, and as detailed in the accompanying papers, when the A band is excited, green fluorescence appears with a rise time shorter than the instrument time resolution ( approximately 170 fs). On the basis of the steady-state spectroscopy and high-resolution crystal structures of several variants described herein, it is proposed that in S65T/H148D, the red shift of absorption band A and the ultrafast appearance of green fluorescence upon excitation of band A are due to a very short (<or=2.4 A), and possibly low-barrier, hydrogen bond between the chromophore hydroxyl and introduced Asp148.
Project description:The green fluorescent protein (GFP)-nanobody is a single-chain VHH antibody domain developed with specific binding activity against GFP and is emerging as a powerful tool for isolation and cellular engineering of fluorescent protein fusions in many different fields of biological research. Using X-ray crystallography and isothermal titration calorimetry, we determine the molecular details of GFP:GFP-nanobody complex formation and explain the basis of high affinity and at the same time high specificity of protein binding. Although the GFP-nanobody can also bind YFP, it cannot bind the closely related CFP or other fluorescent proteins from the mFruit series. CFP differs from GFP only within the central chromophore and at one surface amino acid position, which lies in the binding interface. Using this information, we have engineered a CFP variant (I146N) that is also able to bind the GFP-nanobody with high affinity, thus extending the toolbox of genetically encoded fluorescent probes that can be isolated using the GFP-nanobody.
Project description:Cyan fluorescent proteins (CFPs) are variants of green fluorescent proteins in which the central tyrosine of the chromophore has been replaced by a tryptophan. The increased bulk of the chromophore within a compact protein and the change in the positioning of atoms capable of hydrogen bonding have made it difficult to optimize their fluorescence properties, which took approximately 15 years between the availability of the first useable CFP, enhanced cyan fluorescent protein (ECFP), and that of a variant with almost perfect fluorescence efficiency, mTurquoise2. To understand the molecular bases of the progressive improvement in between these two CFPs, we have studied by incoherent neutron scattering the dynamics of five different variants exhibiting progressively increased fluorescence efficiency along the evolution pathway. Our results correlate well with the analysis of the previously determined X-ray crystallographic structures, which show an increase in flexibility between ECFP and the second variant, Cerulean, which is then hindered in the three later variants, SCFP3A (Super Cyan Fluorescent Protein 3A), mTurquoise and mTurquoise2. This confirms that increasing the rigidity of the direct environment of the fluorescent chromophore is not the sole parameter leading to brighter fluorescent proteins and that increased flexibility in some cases may be helpful.
Project description:mKeima is an unusual monomeric red fluorescent protein (lambda(em)(max) approximately 620 nm) that is maximally excited in the blue (lambda(ex)(max) approximately 440 nm). The large Stokes shift suggests that the chromophore is normally protonated. A 1.63 A resolution structure of mKeima reveals the chromophore to be imbedded in a novel hydrogen bond network, different than in GFP, which could support proton transfer from the chromophore hydroxyl, via Ser142, to Asp157. At low temperatures the emission contains a green component (lambda(em)(max) approximately 535 nm), enhanced by deuterium substitution, presumably resulting from reduced proton transfer efficiency. Ultrafast pump/probe studies reveal a rising component in the 610 nm emission with a lifetime of approximately 4 ps, characterizing the rate of proton transfer. Mutation of Asp157 to neutral Asn changes the chromophore resting charge state to anionic (lambda(ex)(max) approximately 565 nm, lambda(em)(max) approximately 620 nm). Thus, excited state proton transfer (ESPT) explains the large Stokes shift. This work unambiguously characterizes green emission from the protonated acylimine chromophore of red fluorescent proteins.