Direct multiplex imaging and optogenetics of Rho GTPases enabled by near-infrared FRET.
ABSTRACT: Direct visualization and light control of several cellular processes is a challenge, owing to the spectral overlap of available genetically encoded probes. Here we report the most red-shifted monomeric near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent protein, miRFP720, and the fully NIR Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) pair miRFP670-miRFP720, which together enabled design of biosensors compatible with CFP-YFP imaging and blue-green optogenetic tools. We developed a NIR biosensor for Rac1 GTPase and demonstrated its use in multiplexed imaging and light control of Rho GTPase signaling pathways. Specifically, we combined the Rac1 biosensor with CFP-YFP FRET biosensors for RhoA and for Rac1-GDI binding, and concurrently used the LOV-TRAP tool for upstream Rac1 activation. We directly observed and quantified antagonism between RhoA and Rac1 dependent on the RhoA-downstream effector ROCK; showed that Rac1 activity and GDI binding closely depend on the spatiotemporal coordination between these two molecules; and simultaneously observed Rac1 activity during optogenetic manipulation of Rac1.
Project description:Biosensors based on the principle of Förster (or fluorescence) resonance energy transfer (FRET) have been developed to visualize spatio-temporal dynamics of signalling molecules in living cells. Many of them adopt a backbone of intramolecular FRET biosensor with a cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) and yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) as donor and acceptor, respectively. However, there remains the difficulty of establishing cells stably expressing FRET biosensors with a YFP and CFP pair by lentiviral or retroviral gene transfer, due to the high incidence of recombination between YFP and CFP genes. To address this, we examined the effects of codon-diversification of YFP on the recombination of FRET biosensors introduced by lentivirus or retrovirus. The YFP gene that was fully codon-optimized to E.coli evaded the recombination in lentiviral or retroviral gene transfer, but the partially codon-diversified YFP did not. Further, the length of spacer between YFP and CFP genes clearly affected recombination efficiency, suggesting that the intramolecular template switching occurred in the reverse-transcription process. The simple mathematical model reproduced the experimental data sufficiently, yielding a recombination rate of 0.002-0.005 per base. Together, these results show that the codon-diversified YFP is a useful tool for expressing FRET biosensors by lentiviral or retroviral gene transfer.
Project description:Presenilin (PS)/?-secretase plays a pivotal role in essential cellular events via proteolytic processing of transmembrane proteins that include APP and Notch receptors. However, how PS/?-secretase activity is spatiotemporally regulated by other molecular and cellular factors and how the changes in PS/?-secretase activity influence signaling pathways in live cells are poorly understood. These questions could be addressed by engineering a new tool that enables multiplexed imaging of PS/?-secretase activity and additional cellular events in real-time. Here, we report the development of a near-infrared (NIR) FRET-based PS/?-secretase biosensor, C99 720-670 probe, which incorporates an immediate PS/?-secretase substrate APP C99 with miRFP670 and miRFP720 as the donor and acceptor fluorescent proteins, respectively. Extensive validation demonstrates that the C99 720-670 biosensor enables quantitative monitoring of endogenous PS/?-secretase activity on a cell-by-cell basis in live cells (720/670 ratio: 2.47 ± 0.66 (vehicle) vs. 3.02 ± 1.17 (DAPT), ** p < 0.01). Importantly, the C99 720-670 and the previously developed APP C99 YPet-Turquoise-GL (C99 Y-T) biosensors simultaneously report PS/?-secretase activity. This evidences the compatibility of the C99 720-670 biosensor with cyan (CFP)-yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-based FRET biosensors for reporting other essential cellular events. Multiplexed imaging using the novel NIR biosensor C99 720-670 would open a new avenue to better understand the regulation and consequences of changes in PS/?-secretase activity.
Project description:Multiplexed imaging of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)-based biosensors potentially presents a powerful approach to monitoring the spatio-temporal correlation of signalling pathways within a single live cell. Here, we discuss the potential of homo-FRET based biosensors to facilitate multiplexed imaging. We demonstrate that the homo-FRET between pleckstrin homology domains of Akt (Akt-PH) labelled with mCherry may be used to monitor 3'-phosphoinositide accumulation in live cells and show how global analysis of time resolved fluorescence anisotropy measurements can be used to quantify this accumulation. We further present multiplexed imaging readouts of calcium concentration, using fluorescence lifetime measurements of TN-L15-a CFP/YFP based hetero-FRET calcium biosensor-with 3'-phosphoinositide accumulation.
Project description:Optogenetic methods for switching molecular states in cells are increasingly prominent tools in life sciences. Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)-based sensors can provide quantitative and sensitive readouts of altered cellular biochemistry, e.g. from optogenetics. However, most of the light-inducible domains respond to the same wavelength as is required for excitation of popular CFP/YFP-based FRET pairs, rendering the techniques incompatible with each other. In order to overcome this limitation, we red-shifted an existing CFP/YFP-based OP18 FRET sensor (COPY) by employing an sYFP2 donor and mScarlet-I acceptor. Their favorable quantum yield and brightness result in a red-shifted FRET pair with an optimized dynamic range, which could be further enhanced by an R125I point mutation that stimulates intramolecular interactions. The new sensor was named ROPY and it visualizes the interaction between the microtubule regulator stathmin/OP18 and free tubulin heterodimers. We show that through phosphorylation of the ROPY sensor, its tubulin sequestering ability can be locally regulated by photo-activatable Rac1 (PARac1), independent of the FRET readout. Together, ROPY and PARac1 provide spatiotemporal control over free tubulin levels. ROPY/PARac1-based optogenetic regulation of free tubulin levels allowed us to demonstrate that depletion of free tubulin prevents the formation of pioneer microtubules, while local upregulation of tubulin concentration allows localized microtubule extensions to support the lamellipodia.
Project description:Guanine-nucleotide dissociation inhibitors (GDIs) are negative regulators of Rho family GTPases that sequester the GTPases away from the membrane. Here we ask how GDI-Cdc42 interaction regulates localized Cdc42 activation for cell motility. The sensitivity of cells to overexpression of Rho family pathway components led us to a new biosensor, GDI.Cdc42 FLARE, in which Cdc42 is modified with a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) 'binding antenna' that selectively reports Cdc42 binding to endogenous GDIs. Similar antennae could also report GDI-Rac1 and GDI-RhoA interaction. Through computational multiplexing and simultaneous imaging, we determined the spatiotemporal dynamics of GDI-Cdc42 interaction and Cdc42 activation during cell protrusion and retraction. This revealed remarkably tight coordination of GTPase release and activation on a time scale of 10 s, suggesting that GDI-Cdc42 interactions are a critical component of the spatiotemporal regulation of Cdc42 activity, and not merely a mechanism for global sequestration of an inactivated pool of signaling molecules.
Project description:Genetically encoded biosensors based on FRET have enabled the visualization of signaling events in live cells with high spatiotemporal resolution. However, the limited sensitivity of these biosensors has hindered their broad application in biological studies. We have paired enhanced CFP (ECFP) with YPet, a variant of YFP. This ECFP/YPet FRET pair markedly enhanced the sensitivity of biosensors (several folds enhancement without the need of tailored optimization for each individual biosensor) for a variety of signaling molecules, including tyrosine kinase Src, small GTPase Rac, calcium, and a membrane-bound matrix metalloproteinase MT1-MMP. The application of these improved biosensors revealed that the activations of Src and Rac by PDGF displayed distinct subcellular patterns during directional cell migration on micropatterned surface. The activity of Rac is highly polarized and concentrated at the leading edge, whereas Src activity is relatively uniform. These FRET biosensors also led to the discovery that Src and Rac mutually regulate each other. Our findings indicate that molecules within the same signaling feedback loop can be differentially regulated at different subcellular locations. In summary, ECFP/YPet may serve as a general FRET pair for the development of highly sensitive biosensors to allow the determination of molecular hierarchies at subcellular locations in live cells.
Project description:Fluorescent protein (FP) biosensors based on Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) are commonly used to study molecular processes in living cells. There are FP-FRET biosensors for many cellular molecules, but it remains difficult to perform simultaneous measurements of multiple biosensors. The overlapping emission spectra of the commonly used FPs, including CFP/YFP and GFP/RFP make dual FRET measurements challenging. In addition, a snapshot imaging modality is required for simultaneous imaging. The Image Mapping Spectrometer (IMS) is a snapshot hyperspectral imaging system that collects high resolution spectral data and can be used to overcome these challenges. We have previously demonstrated the IMS's capabilities for simultaneously imaging GFP and CFP/YFP-based biosensors in pancreatic ?-cells. Here, we demonstrate a further capability of the IMS to image simultaneously two FRET biosensors with a single excitation band, one for cAMP and the other for Caspase-3. We use these measurements to measure simultaneously cAMP signaling and Caspase-3 activation in pancreatic ?-cells during oxidative stress and hyperglycemia, which are essential components in the pathology of diabetes.
Project description:We present here the phasor approach to biosensor Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) detection by fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) and show that this method of data representation is robust towards biosensor design as well as the fluorescence artifacts inherent to the cellular environment. We demonstrate this property on a series of dual and single chain biosensors, which report the localization of Rac1 and RhoA activity, whilst performing concomitant ratiometric FRET analysis on the acquired FLIM data by the generalized polarization (GP) approach. We then evaluate and compare the ability of these two methods to quantitatively image biosensor FRET signal as a function of time and space. We find that with lifetime analysis in the phasor plot each molecular species is transformed into a two-dimensional coordinate system where independent mixtures of fluorophores can be distinguished from changes in lifetime due to FRET. This enables the fractional contribution of the free and bound state of a dual chain biosensor or the low and high FRET species of a single chain biosensor to be quantified in each pixel of an image. The physical properties intrinsic to each biosensor design are also accurately characterized by the phasor analysis; thus, this method could be used to inform biosensor optimization at the developmental stage. We believe that as biosensors become more sophisticated and are multiplexed with other fluorescent molecular tools, biosensor FRET detection by the phasor approach to FLIM will not only become imperative to their use but also their advancement.
Project description:A variety of genetically encoded reporters use changes in fluorescence (or Förster) resonance energy transfer (FRET) to report on biochemical processes in living cells. The standard genetically encoded FRET pair consists of CFPs and YFPs, but many CFP-YFP reporters suffer from low FRET dynamic range, phototoxicity from the CFP excitation light and complex photokinetic events such as reversible photobleaching and photoconversion. We engineered two fluorescent proteins, Clover and mRuby2, which are the brightest green and red fluorescent proteins to date and have the highest Förster radius of any ratiometric FRET pair yet described. Replacement of CFP and YFP with these two proteins in reporters of kinase activity, small GTPase activity and transmembrane voltage significantly improves photostability, FRET dynamic range and emission ratio changes. These improvements enhance detection of transient biochemical events such as neuronal action-potential firing and RhoA activation in growth cones.
Project description:Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dysfunction is important for alpha-synuclein (?S) acquired toxicity. When targeted to the ER in SH-SY5Y cells, transient or stable expression of ?S resulted in the formation of compact ?S-positive structures in a small subpopulation of cells, resembling ?S inclusions. Thus, because of the limitations of immunofluorescence, we developed a set of ?S FRET biosensors (AFBs) able to track ?S conformation in cells. In native conditions, expression in i36, a stable cell line for ER ?S, of intermolecular AFBs, reporters in which CFP or YFP has been fused with the C-terminal of ?S (?S-CFP/?S-YFP), resulted in no Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), whereas expression of the intramolecular AFB, a probe obtained by fusing YFP and CFP with ?S N- or C- termini (YFP-?S-CFP), showed a positive FRET signal. These data confirmed that ?S has a predominantly globular, monomeric conformation in native conditions. Differently, under pro-aggregating conditions, the intermolecular AFB was able to sense significantly formation of ?S oligomers, when AFB was expressed in the ER rather than ubiquitously, suggesting that the ER can favor changes in ?S conformation when aggregation is stimulated. These results show the potential of AFBs as a new, valuable tool to track ?S conformational changes in vivo.