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Chimeric Autofluorescent Proteins as Photophysical Model System for Multicolor Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation B

Peter, Sébastien, Oven-Krockhaus, Sven zur, Veerabagu, Manikandan, Rodado, Virtudes Mira, Berendzen, Kenneth W., Meixner, Alfred J., Harter, Klaus, Schleifenbaum, Frank E.
The Journal of physical chemistry 2017 v.121 no.11 pp. 2407-2419
Aequorea victoria, DNA, Escherichia coli, color, fluorescence, green fluorescent protein, image analysis, models, mutation, protein-protein interactions, recombinant fusion proteins, spectral analysis, yellow fluorescent protein
The yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) is frequently used in a protein complementation assay called bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC), and is employed to visualize protein–protein interactions. In this analysis, two different, nonfluorescent fragments of YFP are genetically attached to proteins of interest. Upon interaction of these proteins, the YFP fragments are brought into proximity close enough to reconstitute their original structure, enabling fluorescence. BiFC allows for a straightforward readout of protein–protein interactions and furthermore facilitates their functional investigation by in vivo imaging. Furthermore, it has been observed that the available color range in BiFC can be extended upon complementing fragments of different proteins that are, like YFP, derived from the Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein, thereby allowing for a multiplexed investigation of protein–protein interactions. Some spectral characteristics of “multicolor” BiFC (mcBiFC) complexes have been reported before; however, no in-depth analysis has been performed yet. Therefore, little is known about the photophysical characteristics of these mcBiFC complexes because a proper characterization essentially relies on in vitro data. This is particularly difficult for fragments of autofluorescent proteins (AFPs) because they show a very strong tendency to form supramolecular aggregates which precipitate ex vivo. In this study, this intrinsic difficulty is overcome by directly fusing the coding DNA of different AFP fragments. Translation of the genetic sequence in Escherichia coli leads to fully functional, highly soluble fluorescent proteins with distinct properties. On the basis of their construction, they are designated chimeric AFPs, or BiFC chimeras, here. Comparison of their spectral characteristics with experimental in vivo BiFC data confirmed the utility of the chimeric proteins as a BiFC model system. In this study, nine different chimeras were thoroughly analyzed at both the ensemble and the single-molecular level. The data indicates that mutations believed to be photophysically silent significantly alter the properties of AFPs.