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Developing Polysulfide-Sensitive GFPs for Real-Time Analysis of Polysulfides in Live Cells and Subcellular Organelles

Hu, Xin, Li, Huanjie, Zhang, Xi, Chen, Zhigang, Zhao, Rui, Hou, Ningke, Liu, Jihua, Xun, Luying, Liu, Huaiwei
Analytical chemistry 2019 v.91 no.6 pp. 3893-3901
cysteine, developmental stages, green fluorescent protein, homeostasis, in vivo studies, microorganisms, models, organelles
Polysulfides are newly discovered cellular contents, and they are involved in multiple intracellular processes, including redox homeostasis and protein sulfhydration. The dynamic changes of polysulfides inside the cell are directly related to these processes. To monitor the intracellular dynamics and subcellular levels of polysulfides, we developed green-fluorescent-protein (GFP)-based probes that are polysulfide-specific. A pair of cysteine residues was introduced near the GFP chromophore with the spatial distance between the cysteine residues designed to allow the formation of internal −Sₙ– (n ≥ 3) bonds but not −S₂– (disulfide) bonds. We tested these probes in model microorganisms and found that they displayed ratiometric changes to intracellular polysulfides that had clear variations associated with the growth phases. The distribution of polysulfides in subcellular organelles is heterogeneous, suggesting that polysulfides have multiple origins and functions in cells. These probes provided long-desired tools for polysulfide in vivo studies.