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Structure. 2007 May;15(5):515-23.

A computational tool for designing FRET protein biosensors by rigid-body sampling of their conformational space.

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  • 1Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, 164 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G9, Canada.


Biosensors relying on the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between fluorescent proteins have been used for live-cell imaging of cellular events including Ca(2+) signaling. The efficiency of energy transfer between the donor and acceptor fluorescent proteins depends on the relative distance and orientation between them, which become altered by conformational changes of a fused sensory protein caused by a cellular event. In this way, changes in FRET efficiency of Ca(2+) biosensors can be correlated with Ca(2+) concentrations. The design of these FRET biosensors can be improved by modeling conformational changes before and after a cellular event. Hence, a computational tool called FPMOD was developed to predict FRET efficiency changes by constructing FRET biosensors and sampling their conformational space through rigid-body rotation. We showed with FPMOD that our computational modeling approach can qualitatively predict the FRET efficiencies of a range of biosensors, which had strong agreement with experimental results.

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