Allosteric effects of chromophore interaction with dimeric near-infrared fluorescent proteins engineered from bacterial phytochromes.
ABSTRACT: Fluorescent proteins (FPs) engineered from bacterial phytochromes attract attention as probes for in vivo imaging due to their near-infrared (NIR) spectra and use of available in mammalian cells biliverdin (BV) as chromophore. We studied spectral properties of the iRFP670, iRFP682 and iRFP713 proteins and their mutants having Cys residues able to bind BV either in both PAS (Cys15) and GAF (Cys256) domains, in one of these domains, or without these Cys residues. We show that the absorption and fluorescence spectra and the chromophore binding depend on the location of the Cys residues. Compared with NIR FPs in which BV covalently binds to Cys15 or those that incorporate BV noncovalently, the proteins with BV covalently bound to Cys256 have blue-shifted spectra and higher quantum yield. In dimeric NIR FPs without Cys15, the covalent binding of BV to ?ys256 in one monomer allosterically inhibits the covalent binding of BV to the other monomer, whereas the presence of Cys15 allosterically promotes BV binding to Cys256 in both monomers. The NIR FPs with both Cys residues have the narrowest blue-shifted spectra and the highest quantum yield. Our analysis resulted in the iRFP713/Val256Cys protein with the highest brightness in mammalian cells among available NIR FPs.
Project description:Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent proteins (FPs) designed from PAS (Per-ARNT-Sim repeats) and GAF (cGMP phosphodiesterase/adenylate cyclase/FhlA transcriptional activator) domains of bacterial phytochromes covalently bind biliverdin (BV) chromophore via one or two Cys residues. We studied BV interaction with a series of NIR FP variants derived from the recently reported BphP1-FP protein. The latter was engineered from a bacterial phytochrome RpBphP1, and has two reactive Cys residues (Cys15 in the PAS domain and Cys256 in the GAF domain), whereas its mutants contain single Cys residues either in the PAS domain or in the GAF domain, or no Cys residues. We characterized BphP1-FP and its mutants biochemically and spectroscopically in the absence and in the presence of denaturant. We found that all BphP1-FP variants are monomers. We revealed that spectral properties of the BphP1-FP variants containing either Cys15 or Cys256, or both, are determined by the covalently bound BV chromophore only. Consequently, this suggests an involvement of the inter-monomeric allosteric effects in the BV interaction with monomers in dimeric NIR FPs, such as iRFPs. Likely, insertion of the Cys15 residue, in addition to the Cys256 residue, in dimeric NIR FPs influences BV binding by promoting the BV chromophore covalent cross-linking to both PAS and GAF domains.
Project description:Understanding the photophysical properties and stability of near-infrared fluorescent proteins (NIR FPs) based on bacterial phytochromes is of great importance for the design of efficient fluorescent probes for use in cells and in vivo. Previously, the natural ligand of NIR FPs biliverdin (BV) has been revealed to be capable of covalent binding to the inherent cysteine residue in the PAS domain (Cys15), and to the cysteine residue introduced into the GAF domain (Cys256), as well as simultaneously with these two residues. Here, based on the spectroscopic analysis of several NIR FPs with both cysteine residues in PAS and GAF domains, we show that the covalent binding of BV simultaneously with two domains is the reason for the higher quantum yield of BV fluorescence in these proteins as a result of rigid fixation of the chromophore in their chromophore-binding pocket. We demonstrate that since the attachment sites are located in different regions of the polypeptide chain forming a figure-of-eight knot, their binding to BV leads to shielding of many sites of proteolytic degradation due to additional stabilization of the entire protein structure. This makes NIR FPs with both cysteine residues in PAS and GAF domains less susceptible to cleavage by intracellular proteases.
Project description:Near-infrared fluorescent proteins (NIR FPs) engineered from bacterial phytochromes (BphPs) are of great interest for in vivo imaging. They utilize biliverdin (BV) as a chromophore, which is a heme degradation product, and therefore they are straightforward to use in mammalian tissues. Here, we report on fluorescence properties of NIR FPs with key alterations in their BV binding sites. BphP1-FP, iRFP670 and iRFP682 have Cys residues in both PAS and GAF domains, rather than in the PAS domain alone as in wild-type BphPs. We found that NIR FP variants with Cys in the GAF or with Cys in both PAS and GAF show blue-shifted emission with long fluorescence lifetimes. In contrast, mutants with Cys in the PAS only or no Cys residues at all exhibit red-shifted emission with shorter lifetimes. Combining these results with previous biochemical and BphP1-FP structural data, we conclude that BV adducts bound to Cys in the GAF are the origin of bright blue-shifted fluorescence. We propose that the long fluorescence lifetime follows from (i) a sterically more constrained thioether linkage, leaving less mobility for ring A than in canonical BphPs, and (ii) that ?-electron conjugation does not extend on ring A, making excited-state deactivation less sensitive to ring A mobility.
Project description:Phytochromes are red/far-red light sensing photoreceptors employing linear tetrapyrroles as chromophores, which are covalently bound to a cysteine (Cys) residue in the chromophore-binding domain (CBD, composed of a PAS and a GAF domain). Recently, near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent proteins (FPs) engineered from bacterial phytochromes binding biliverdin IX? (BV), such as the iRFP series, have become invaluable probes for multicolor fluorescence microscopy and in vivo imaging. However, all current NIR FPs suffer from relatively low brightness. Here, by combining biochemical, spectroscopic and resonance Raman (RR) assays, we purified and characterized an iRFP variant that contains a BV chromophore simultaneously bound to two cysteines. This protein with the unusual double-Cys attached BV showed the highest fluorescence quantum yield (FQY) of 16.6% reported for NIR FPs, whereas the initial iRFP appeared to be a mixture of species with a mean FQY of 11.1%. The purified protein was also characterized with 1.3-fold higher extinction coefficient that together with FQY resulted in almost two-fold brighter fluorescence than the original iRFP as isolated. This work shows that the high FQY of iRFPs with two cysteines is a direct consequence of the double attachment. The PAS-Cys, GAF-Cys and double-Cys attachment each entails distinct configurational constraints of the BV adduct, which can be identified by distinct RR spectroscopic features, i.e. the marker band including the C=C stretching coordinate of the ring A-B methine bridge, which was previously identified as being characteristic for rigid chromophore embedment and high FQY. Our findings can be used to rationally engineer iRFP variants with enhanced FQYs.
Project description:Biomarkers engineered on the basis of bacterial phytochromes with biliverdin IX? (BV) cofactor as a chromophore are increasingly used in cell biology and biomedicine, since their absorption and fluorescence spectra lie within the so-called optical "transparency window" of biological tissues. However, the quantum yield of BV fluorescence in these biomarkers does not exceed 0.145. The task of generating biomarkers with a higher fluorescence quantum yield remains relevant. To address the problem, we proposed the use of phycocyanobilin (PCB) as a chromophore of biomarkers derived from bacterial phytochromes. In this work, we characterized the complexes of iRFP713 evolved from RpBphP2 and its mutant variants with different location of cysteine residues capable of covalent tetrapyrrole attachment with the PCB cofactor. All analyzed proteins assembled with PCB were shown to have a higher fluorescence quantum yield than the proteins assembled with BV. The iRFP713/V256C and iRFP713/C15S/V256C assembled with PCB have a particularly high quantum yield of 0.5 and 0.45, which exceeds the quantum yield of all currently available near-infrared biomarkers. Moreover, PCB has 4 times greater affinity for iRFP713/V256C and iRFP713/C15S/V256C proteins compared to BV. These data establish iRFP713/V256C and iRFP713/C15S/V256C assembled with the PCB chromophore as promising biomarkers for application in vivo. The analysis of the spectral properties of the tested biomarkers allowed for suggesting that the high-fluorescence quantum yield of the PCB chromophore can be attributed to the lower mobility of the D-ring of PCB compared to BV.
Project description:Fluorescent proteins (FP) are used to study various biological processes. Recently, a series of near-infrared (NIR) FPs based on bacterial phytochromes was developed. Finding ways to improve NIR FPs is becoming progressively important. By applying rational design and molecular evolution we have engineered R. palustris bacterial phytochrome into a single-domain NIR FP of 19.6?kDa, termed GAF-FP, which is 2-fold and 1.4-fold smaller than bacterial phytochrome-based NIR FPs and GFP-like proteins, respectively. Engineering of GAF-FP involved a substitution of 15% of its amino acids and a deletion of the knot structure. GAF-FP covalently binds two tetrapyrrole chromophores, biliverdin (BV) and phycocyanobilin (PCB). With the BV chromophore GAF-FP absorbs at 635?nm and fluoresces at 670?nm. With the PCB chromophore GAF-FP becomes blue-shifted and absorbs at 625?nm and fluoresces at 657?nm. The GAF-FP structure has a high tolerance to small peptide insertions. The small size of GAF-FP and its additional absorbance band in the violet range has allowed for designing a chimeric protein with Renilla luciferase. The chimera exhibits efficient non-radiative energy transfer from luciferase to GAF-FP, resulting in NIR bioluminescence. This study opens the way for engineering of small NIR FPs and NIR luciferases from bacterial phytochromes.
Project description:Brighter near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent proteins (FPs) are required for multicolor microscopy and deep-tissue imaging. Here, we present structural and biochemical analyses of three monomeric, spectrally distinct phytochrome-based NIR FPs, termed miRFPs. The miRFPs are closely related and differ by only a few amino acids, which define their molecular brightness, brightness in mammalian cells, and spectral properties. We have identified the residues responsible for the spectral red-shift, revealed a new chromophore bound simultaneously to two cysteine residues in the PAS and GAF domains in blue-shifted NIR FPs, and uncovered the importance of amino acid residues in the N-terminus of NIR FPs for their molecular and cellular brightness. The novel chromophore covalently links the N-terminus of NIR FPs with their C-terminal GAF domain, forming a topologically closed knot in the structure, and also contributes to the increased brightness. Based on our studies, we suggest a strategy to develop spectrally distinct NIR FPs with enhanced brightness.
Project description:Near-infrared fluorescent proteins (NIR FPs) engineered from bacterial phytochromes (BphPs) are the probes of choice for deep-tissue imaging. Detection of several processes requires spectrally distinct NIR FPs. We developed an NIR FP, BphP1-FP, which has the most blue-shifted spectra and the highest fluorescence quantum yield among BphP-derived FPs. We found that these properties result from the binding of the biliverdin chromophore to a cysteine residue in the GAF domain, unlike natural BphPs and other BphP-based FPs. To elucidate the molecular basis of the spectral shift, we applied biochemical, structural and mass spectrometry analyses and revealed the formation of unique chromophore species. Mutagenesis of NIR FPs of different origins indicated that the mechanism of the spectral shift is general and can be used to design multicolor NIR FPs from other BphPs. We applied pairs of spectrally distinct point cysteine mutants to multicolor cell labeling and demonstrated that they perform well in model deep-tissue imaging.
Project description:Near-infrared fluorescent proteins (NIR FPs) based on the complexes of bacterial phytochromes with their natural biliverdin chromophore are widely used as genetically encoded optical probes for visualization of cellular processes and deep-tissue imaging of cells and organs in living animals. In this work, we show that the steady-state and kinetic dependencies of the various spectral characteristics of iRFP713, developed from the bacterial phytochrome RpBphP2 and recorded at protein unfolding induced by guanidine hydrochloride (GdnHCl), guanidine thiocyanate (GTC), and urea, differ substantially. A study of the unfolding of three single-tryptophan mutant forms of iRFP713 expectedly revealed that protein unfolding begins with the dissociation of the native dimer, while the monomers remain compact. A further increase in the denaturant concentration leads to the formation of an intermediate state of iRFP713 having hydrophobic areas exposed on the protein surface (I). The total surface charge of iRFP713 (pI 5.86) changes from negative to positive with an increase in the concentration of GdnHCl and GTC because the negative charge of glutamic and aspartic acids is neutralized by forming salt bridges between the carboxyl groups and GdnH? ions and because the guanidinium cations bind to amide groups of glutamines and asparagines. The coincidence of both the concentration of the denaturants at which the intermediate state of iRFP713 accumulates and the concentration of GdnH? ions at which the neutralization of the surface charge of the protein in this state is ensured results in strong protein aggregation. This is evidently realized by iRFP713 unfolding by GTC. At the unfolding of the protein by GdnHCl, an intermediate state is populated at higher denaturant concentrations and a strong aggregation is not observed. As expected, protein aggregates are not formed in the presence of the urea. The aggregation of the protein upon neutralization of the charge on the macromolecule surface is the main indicator of the intermediate state of protein. The unfolded state of iRFP713, whose formation is accompanied by a significant decrease in the parameter A, was found to have a different residual structure in the denaturants used.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The use of genetically-encoded fluorescent reporters is essential for the identification and observation of cells that express transgenic modulatory proteins. Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent proteins have superior light penetration through biological tissue, but are not yet widely adopted. NEW METHOD:Using the near-infrared fluorescent protein, iRFP713, improves the imaging resolution in thick tissue sections or the intact brain due to the reduced light-scattering at the longer, NIR wavelengths used to image the protein. Additionally, iRFP713 can be used to identify transgenic cells without photobleaching other fluorescent reporters or affecting opsin function. We have generated a set of adeno-associated vectors in which iRFP713 has been fused to optogenetic channels, and can be expressed constitutively or Cre-dependently. RESULTS:iRFP713 is detectable when expressed in neurons both in vitro and in vivo without exogenously supplied chromophore biliverdin. Neuronally-expressed iRFP713 has similar properties to GFP-like fluorescent proteins, including the ability to be translationally fused to channelrhodopsin or halorhodopsin, however, it shows superior photostability compared to EYFP. Furthermore, electrophysiological recordings from iRFP713-labeled cells compared to cells labeled with mCherry suggest that iRFP713 cells are healthier and therefore more stable and reliable in an ex vivo preparation. Lastly, we have generated a transgenic rat that expresses iRFP713 in a Cre-dependent manner. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, we have demonstrated that iRFP713 can be used as a reporter in neurons without the use of exogenous biliverdin, with minimal impact on viability and function thereby making it feasible to extend the capabilities for imaging genetically-tagged neurons in slices and in vivo.