Near-Infrared Fluorescent Proteins Engineered from Bacterial Phytochromes in Neuroimaging.
ABSTRACT: Several series of near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent proteins (FPs) were recently engineered from bacterial phytochromes but were not systematically compared in neurons. To fluoresce, NIR FPs utilize an enzymatic derivative of heme, the linear tetrapyrrole biliverdin, as a chromophore whose level in neurons is poorly studied. Here, we evaluated NIR FPs of the iRFP protein family, which were reported to be the brightest in non-neuronal mammalian cells, in primary neuronal culture, in brain slices of mouse and monkey, and in mouse brain in vivo. We applied several fluorescence imaging modes, such as wide-field and confocal one-photon and two-photon microscopy, to compare photochemical and biophysical properties of various iRFPs. The iRFP682 and iRFP670 proteins exhibited the highest brightness and photostability under one-photon and two-photon excitation modes, respectively. All studied iRFPs exhibited efficient binding of the endogenous biliverdin chromophore in cultured neurons and in the mammalian brain and can be readily applied to neuroimaging.
Project description:Near-infrared fluorescent proteins (FPs) are in high demand for in vivo imaging. We developed four spectrally distinct near-infrared FPs--iRFP670, iRFP682, iRFP702 and iRFP720--from bacterial phytochromes. iRFPs exhibit high brightness in mammalian cells and tissues and are suitable for long-term studies. iRFP670 and iRFP720 enable two-color imaging with standard approaches in living cells and mice. The four new iRFPs and the previously engineered iRFP713 allow multicolor imaging with spectral unmixing in living mice.
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 IXα (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: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 Сys256 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 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 π-electron conjugation does not extend on ring A, making excited-state deactivation less sensitive to ring A mobility.
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:Bacteriophytochrome photoreceptors (BphP) are knotted proteins that have been developed as near-infrared fluorescent protein (iRFP) reporters of gene expression. To explore how rearrangements in the peptides that interlace into the knot within the BphP photosensory core affect folding, we subjected iRFPs to random circular permutation using an improved transposase mutagenesis strategy and screened for variants that fluoresce. We identified 27 circularly permuted iRFPs that display biliverdin-dependent fluorescence in Escherichia coli. The variants with the brightest whole cell fluorescence initiated translation at residues near the domain linker and knot tails, although fluorescent variants that initiated translation within the PAS and GAF domains were discovered. Circularly permuted iRFPs retained sufficient cofactor affinity to fluoresce in tissue culture without the addition of biliverdin, and one variant displayed enhanced fluorescence when expressed in bacteria and tissue culture. This variant displayed a quantum yield similar to that of iRFPs but exhibited increased resistance to chemical denaturation, suggesting that the observed increase in the magnitude of the signal arose from more efficient protein maturation. These results show how the contact order of a knotted BphP can be altered without disrupting chromophore binding and fluorescence, an important step toward the creation of near-infrared biosensors with expanded chemical sensing functions for in vivo imaging.
Project description:From a single domain of cyanobacteriochrome (CBCR) we developed a near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent protein (FP), termed miRFP670nano, with excitation at 645?nm and emission at 670?nm. This is the first CBCR-derived NIR FP evolved to efficiently bind endogenous biliverdin chromophore and brightly fluoresce in mammalian cells. miRFP670nano is a monomer with molecular weight of 17?kDa that is 2-fold smaller than bacterial phytochrome (BphP)-based NIR FPs and 1.6-fold smaller than GFP-like FPs. Crystal structure of the CBCR-based NIR FP with biliverdin reveals a molecular basis of its spectral and biochemical properties. Unlike BphP-derived NIR FPs, miRFP670nano is highly stable to denaturation and degradation and can be used as an internal protein tag. miRFP670nano is an effective FRET donor for red-shifted NIR FPs, enabling engineering NIR FRET biosensors spectrally compatible with GFP-like FPs and blue-green optogenetic tools. miRFP670nano unlocks a new source of diverse CBCR templates for NIR FPs.
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:Numerous near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent proteins (FPs) were recently engineered from bacterial photoreceptors but lack of their systematic comparison makes researcher's choice rather difficult. Here we evaluated side-by-side several modern NIR FPs, such as blue-shifted smURFP and miRFP670, and red-shifted mIFP and miRFP703. We found that among all NIR FPs, miRFP670 had the highest fluorescence intensity in various mammalian cells. For instance, in common HeLa cells miRFP703, mIFP, and smURFP were 2-, 9-, and 53-fold dimmer than miRFP670. Either co-expression of heme oxygenase or incubation of cells with heme precursor weakly affected NIR fluorescence, however, in the latter case elevated cellular autofluorescence. Exogenously added chromophore substantially increased smURFP brightness but only slightly enhanced brightness of other NIR FPs. mIFP showed intermediate, while monomeric miRFP670 and miRFP703 exhibited high binding efficiency of endogenous biliverdin chromophore. This feature makes them easy to use as GFP-like proteins for spectral multiplexing with FPs of visible range.
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.