MCerulean3-Based Cameleon Sensor to Explore Mitochondrial Ca2+ Dynamics In Vivo.
ABSTRACT: Genetically Encoded Ca2+ Indicators (GECIs) are extensively used to study organelle Ca2+ homeostasis, although some available probes are still plagued by a number of problems, e.g., low fluorescence intensity, partial mistargeting, and pH sensitivity. Furthermore, in the most commonly used mitochondrial Förster Resonance Energy Transfer based-GECIs, the donor protein ECFP is characterized by a double exponential lifetime that complicates the fluorescence lifetime analysis. We have modified the cytosolic and mitochondria-targeted Cameleon GECIs by (1) substituting the donor ECFP with mCerulean3, a brighter and more stable fluorescent protein with a single exponential lifetime; (2) extensively modifying the constructs to improve targeting efficiency and fluorescence changes caused by Ca2+ binding; and (3) inserting the cDNAs into adeno-associated viral vectors for in vivo expression. The probes have been thoroughly characterized in situ by fluorescence microscopy and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy, and examples of their ex vivo and in vivo applications are described.
Project description:Cyan fluorescent proteins (CFPs), such as Cerulean, are widely used as donor fluorophores in Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments. Nonetheless, the most widely used variants suffer from drawbacks that include low quantum yields and unstable flurorescence. To improve the fluorescence properties of Cerulean, we used the X-ray structure to rationally target specific amino acids for optimization by site-directed mutagenesis. Optimization of residues in strands 7 and 8 of the ?-barrel improved the quantum yield of Cerulean from 0.48 to 0.60. Further optimization by incorporating the wild-type T65S mutation in the chromophore improved the quantum yield to 0.87. This variant, mCerulean3, is 20% brighter and shows greatly reduced fluorescence photoswitching behavior compared to the recently described mTurquoise fluorescent protein in vitro and in living cells. The fluorescence lifetime of mCerulean3 also fits to a single exponential time constant, making mCerulean3 a suitable choice for fluorescence lifetime microscopy experiments. Furthermore, inclusion of mCerulean3 in a fusion protein with mVenus produced FRET ratios with less variance than mTurquoise-containing fusions in living cells. Thus, mCerulean3 is a bright, photostable cyan fluorescent protein which possesses several characteristics that are highly desirable for FRET experiments.
Project description:Cyan variants of green fluorescent protein are widely used as donors in Förster resonance energy transfer experiments. The popular, but modestly bright, Enhanced Cyan Fluorescent Protein (ECFP) was sequentially improved into the brighter variants Super Cyan Fluorescent Protein 3A (SCFP3A) and mTurquoise, the latter exhibiting a high-fluorescence quantum yield and a long mono-exponential fluorescence lifetime. Here we combine X-ray crystallography and excited-state calculations to rationalize these stepwise improvements. The enhancement originates from stabilization of the seventh ?-strand and the strengthening of the sole chromophore-stabilizing hydrogen bond. The structural analysis highlighted one suboptimal internal residue, which was subjected to saturation mutagenesis combined with fluorescence lifetime-based screening. This resulted in mTurquoise2, a brighter variant with faster maturation, high photostability, longer mono-exponential lifetime and the highest quantum yield measured for a monomeric fluorescent protein. Together, these properties make mTurquoise2 the preferable cyan variant of green fluorescent protein for long-term imaging and as donor for Förster resonance energy transfer to a yellow fluorescent protein.
Project description:In this work, fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy in the time domain was used to study the fluorescence dynamics of ECFP and of the ratiometric chloride sensor Clomeleon along neuronal development. The multiexponential analysis of fluorophores combined with the study of the contributions of the individual lifetimes (decay-associated spectra) was used to discriminate the presence of energy transfer from other excited state reactions. A characteristic change of sign of the pre-exponential factors of lifetimes from positive to negative near the acceptor emission maxima was observed in presence of energy transfer. By fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, we could show that the individual conformations of CFP display differential quenching properties depending on their microenvironment. Suitability of Clomeleon as an optical indicator to obtain a direct readout of the intracellular chloride concentrations in living cells was verified by steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopy. The simultaneous study of the photophysical properties of Clomeleon, the calcium indicator Cameleon, and ECFP with neuronal development provided a kinetic model for the mechanism when competitive quenching effects as well as energy transfer occur in the same molecule. Simultaneous analysis of donor and acceptor kinetics was necessary to discriminate Försters resonance energy transfer along neuronal development due to the different cellular effects involved.
Project description:Sensory processing is regulated by the coordinated excitation and inhibition of neurons in neuronal circuits. The analysis of neuronal activities has greatly benefited from the recent development of genetically encoded Ca2+ indicators (GECIs). These molecules change their fluorescence intensities or colours in response to changing levels of Ca2+ and can, therefore, be used to sensitively monitor intracellular Ca2+ concentration, which enables the detection of neuronal excitation, including action potentials. These GECIs were developed to monitor increases in Ca2+ concentration; therefore, neuronal inhibition cannot be sensitively detected by these GECIs. To overcome this difficulty, we hypothesised that an inverse-type of GECI, whose fluorescence intensity increases as Ca2+ levels decrease, could sensitively monitor reducing intracellular Ca2+ concentrations. We, therefore, developed a Ca2+ indicator named inverse-pericam 2.0 (IP2.0) whose fluorescent intensity decreases 25-fold upon Ca2+ binding in vitro. Using IP2.0, we successfully detected putative neuronal inhibition by monitoring the decrease in intracellular Ca2+ concentration in AWCON and ASEL neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans. Therefore, IP2.0 is a useful tool for studying neuronal inhibition and for the detailed analysis of neuronal activities in vivo.
Project description:Emerging genetically-encoded Ca2+-indicators (GECIs) are intensiometric reporters that increase in fluorescence when bound to Ca2+; highly suited for studying calcium-signaling in many cell types, notably neurons. Today, major efforts are devoted toward optimizing red-emitting [red fluorescent protein (RFP)-based] GECIs (R-GECI), as these provide several advantages over GFP-based reporters, for instance, increased imaging depth, reduced photodamage by longer imaging wavelengths and, in principle, are better suited for use with prevalent blue-absorbing optogenetic tools (e.g., channelrhodopsin). However, excessive fluorescence from intersecting neighboring cells in very dense tissues, notably the brain, hinders the ability to collect signals from single cells and their processes. This challenge can be addressed by photoactivatable (PA) fluorescent proteins that can be rendered fluorescent on demand by user-defined targeted light. This allows activation and, thereby, collection of fluorescent signals exclusively from desired cells and their processes, while leaving all neighboring cells in the dark (i.e., non-fluorescent). Nevertheless, there are no PA R-GECIs. Here, we sought to develop PA-R-GECIs. To do so, we initially explored a recently discovered phenomenon of Ca2+-independent increases in fluorescence (i.e., artifacts) in an emerging R-GECI, which has led us to rationally engineer several functional PA-R-GECIs. We also take advantage of our findings to quickly engineer a novel PA-RFP, namely, PA-mRuby3.
Project description:The recently developed genetically encoded calcium indicator (GECI), called NTnC, has a novel design with reduced size due to utilization of the troponin C (TnC) as a Ca2+-binding moiety inserted into the mNeonGreen fluorescent protein. NTnC binds two times less Ca2+ ions while maintaining a higher fluorescence brightness at the basal level of Ca2+ in neurons as compared with the calmodulin-based GECIs, such as GCaMPs. In spite of NTnC's high brightness, pH-stability, and high sensitivity to single action potentials, it has a limited fluorescence contrast (F-Ca2+/F+Ca2+) and slow Ca2+ dissociation kinetics.Herein, we developed a new NTnC-like GECI with enhanced fluorescence contrast and kinetics by replacing the mNeonGreen fluorescent subunit of the NTnC indicator with EYFP. Similar to NTnC, the developed indicator, named iYTnC2, has an inverted fluorescence response to Ca2+ (i.e. becoming dimmer with an increase of Ca2+ concentration). In the presence of Mg2+ ions, iYTnC2 demonstrated a 2.8-fold improved fluorescence contrast in vitro as compared with NTnC. The iYTnC2 indicator has lower brightness and pH-stability, but similar photostability as compared with NTnC in vitro. Stopped-flow fluorimetry studies revealed that iYTnC2 has 5-fold faster Ca2+ dissociation kinetics than NTnC. When compared with GCaMP6f GECI, iYTnC2 has up to 5.6-fold faster Ca2+ association kinetics and 1.7-fold slower dissociation kinetics. During calcium transients in cultured mammalian cells, iYTnC2 demonstrated a 2.7-fold higher fluorescence contrast as compared with that for the NTnC. iYTnC2 demonstrated a 4-fold larger response to Ca2+ transients in neuronal cultures than responses of NTnC. iYTnC2 response in neurons was additionally characterized using whole-cell patch clamp. Finally, we demonstrated that iYTnC2 can visualize neuronal activity in vivo in the hippocampus of freely moving mice using a nVista miniscope.We demonstrate that expanding the family of NTnC-like calcium indicators is a promising strategy for the development of the next generation of GECIs with smaller molecule size and lower Ca2+ ions buffering capacity as compared with commonly used GECIs.
Project description:We have compared the performance of two Troponin-C-based calcium FRET sensors using fluorescence lifetime read-outs. The first sensor, TN-L15, consists of a Troponin-C fragment inserted between CFP and Citrine while the second sensor, called mTFP-TnC-Cit, was realized by replacing CFP in TN-L15 with monomeric Teal Fluorescent Protein (mTFP1). Using cytosol preparations of transiently transfected mammalian cells, we have measured the fluorescence decay profiles of these sensors at controlled concentrations of calcium using time-correlated single photon counting. These data were fitted to discrete exponential decay models using global analysis to determine the FRET efficiency, fraction of donor molecules undergoing FRET and calcium affinity of these sensors. We have also studied the decay profiles of the donor fluorescent proteins alone and determined the sensitivity of the donor lifetime to temperature and emission wavelength. Live-cell fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) of HEK293T cells expressing each of these sensors was also undertaken. We confirmed that donor fluorescence of mTFP-TnC-Cit fits well to a two-component decay model, while the TN-L15 lifetime data was best fitted to a constrained four-component model, which was supported by phasor analysis of the measured lifetime data. If the constrained global fitting is employed, the TN-L15 sensor can provide a larger dynamic range of lifetime readout than the mTFP-TnC-Cit sensor but the CFP donor is significantly more sensitive to changes in temperature and emission wavelength compared to mTFP and, while the mTFP-TnC-Cit solution phase data broadly agreed with measurements in live cells, this was not the case for the TN-L15 sensor. Our titration experiment also indicates that a similar precision in determination of calcium concentration can be achieved with both FRET biosensors when fitting a single exponential donor fluorescence decay model to the fluorescence decay profiles. We therefore suggest that mTFP-based probes are more suitable for FLIM experiments than CFP-based probes.
Project description:Glial cell Ca2+ signals play a key role in glial-neuronal and glial-glial network communication. Numerous studies have thus far utilized cell-permeant and injected Ca2+ indicator dyes to investigate glial Ca2+ signals in vitro and in situ. Genetically encoded fluorescent Ca2+ indicators have emerged as novel probes for investigating cellular Ca2+ signals. We have expressed one such indicator protein, the YC 3.60 cameleon, under the control of the S100beta promoter and directed its expression predominantly in astrocytes and Schwann cells. Expression of YC 3.60 extended into the entire cellular cytoplasmic compartment and the fine terminal processes of protoplasmic astrocytes and Schwann cell Cajal bands. In the brain, all the cells known to express S100beta in the adult or during development, expressed YC 3.60. While expression was most extensive in astrocytes, other glial cell types that express S100beta, such as NG2 and CNP-positive oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OP cells), microglia, and some of the large motor neurons in the brain stem, also contained YC 3.60 fluorescence. Using a variety of known in situ and in vivo assays, we found that stimuli known to elicit Ca2+ signals in astrocytes caused substantial and rapid Ca2+ signals in the YC 3.60-expressing astrocytes. In addition, forepaw stimulation while imaging astrocytes through a cranial window in the somatosensory cortex in live mice, revealed robust evoked and spontaneous Ca2+ signals. These results, for the first time, show that genetically encoded reporter is capable of recording activity-dependent Ca2+ signals in the astrocyte processes, and networks.
Project description:Phosphorylation of the RMLC (regulatory myosin light chain) regulates the activity of myosin II, which is critically involved in the motility of both muscle and non-muscle cells. There are both Ca2+-dependent and -independent pathways for RMLC phosphorylation in smooth-muscle cells, and the latter pathway is often involved in an abnormal contractility in pathological states such as asthma and hypertension. Therefore pharmacological interventions of RMLC phosphorylation may have a therapeutic value. In the present study, we developed a new genetically encoded biosensor, termed CRCit (ECFP-RMLC-Citrine, where ECFP is enhanced cyan fluorescent protein), that detects RMLC phosphorylation using fluorescence resonance energy transfer between two variants of the green fluorescent protein fused to both the N- and C-termini of RMLC. When expressed in primary cultured vascular smooth-muscle cells, CRCit detected the Ca2+-dependent RMLC phosphorylation with a high spatiotemporal resolution. Furthermore, we could specifically assay the agonist-induced Ca2+-independent phosphorylation of RMLC when Ca2+ signalling in cells expressing CRCit was suppressed. Thus CRCit may also be used for the high throughput screening of compounds that inhibit abnormal smooth-muscle contraction.
Project description:Zebrafish embryos have been proposed as a cost-effective vertebrate model to study heart function. Many fluorescent genetically encoded Ca2+ indicators (GECIs) have been developed, but those with ratiometric readout seem more appropriate to image a moving organ such as the heart. Four ratiometric GECIs based on troponin C, TN-XXL, Twitch-1, Twitch-2B, and Twitch-4 were expressed transiently in the heart of zebrafish embryos. Their emission ratio reported the Ca2+ levels in both the atrium and the ventricle. We measured several kinetic parameters of the Ca2+ transients: systolic and diastolic ratio, the amplitude of the systolic Ca2+ rise, the heart rate, as well as the rise and decay times and slopes. The systolic ratio change decreased in cells expressing high biosensor concentration, possibly caused by Ca2+ buffering. The GECIs were able to report the effect of nifedipine and propranolol on the heart, which resulted in changes in heart rate, diastolic and systolic Ca2+ levels, and Ca2+ kinetics. As a result, Twitch-1 and Twitch-4 (Kd 0.25 and 2.8 µM, respectively) seem the most promising GECIs for generating transgenic zebrafish lines, which could be used for modeling heart disorders, for drug screening, and for cardiotoxicity assessment during drug development.