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Nucleic Acids Res. Nov 1, 1998; 26(21): 4946–4952.
PMCID: PMC147944

Random insertion of GFP into the cAMP-dependent protein kinase regulatory subunit from Dictyostelium discoideum.


The green fluorescent protein (GFP) is currently being used for diverse cellular biology approaches, mainly as a protein tag or to monitor gene expression. Recently it has been shown that GFP can also be used to monitor the activation of second messenger pathways by the use of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between two different GFP mutants fused to a Ca2+sensor. We show here that GFP fusions can also be used to obtain information on regions essential for protein function. As FRET requires the two GFPs to be very close, N- or C-terminal fusion proteins will not generally produce FRET between two interacting proteins. In order to increase the probability of FRET, we decided to study the effect of random insertion of two GFP mutants into a protein of interest. We describe here a methodology for random insertion of GFP into the cAMP-dependent protein kinase regulatory subunit using a bacterial expression vector. The selection and analysis of 120 green fluorescent colonies revealed that the insertions were distributed throughout the R coding region. 14 R/GFP fusion proteins were partially purified and characterized for cAMP binding, fluorescence and ability to inhibit PKA catalytic activity. This study reveals that GFP insertion only moderately disturbed the overall folding of the protein or the proper folding of another domain of the protein, as tested by cAMP binding capacity. Furthermore, three R subunits out of 14, which harbour a GFP inserted in the cAMP binding site B, inhibit PKA catalytic subunit in a cAMP-dependent manner. Random insertion of GFP within the R subunit sets the path to develop two-component FRET with the C subunit.

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