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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2009 Jun 1;486(1):27-34. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Apr 7.

Facilitating chromophore formation of engineered Ca(2+) binding green fluorescent proteins.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Center for Drug Design and Advanced Biotechnology, Georgia State University, 50 Decatur Street, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA.


Green fluorescent protein (GFP) containing a self-coded chromophore has been applied in protein trafficking and folding, gene expression, and as sensors in living cells. While the "cycle3" mutation denoted as C3 mutation (F99S/M153T/V163A) offers the ability to increase GFP fluorescence at 37 degrees C, it is not clear whether such mutations will also be able to assist the folding and formation of the chromophore upon the addition of metal ion binding sites. Here, we investigate in both bacterial and mammalian systems, the effect of C2 (M153T/V163A) and C3 (F99S/M153T/V163A) mutations on the folding of enhanced GFP (EGFP, includes F64L/S65T) and its variants engineered with two types of Ca(2+) binding sites: (1) a designed discontinuous Ca(2+) binding site and (2) a grafted continuous Ca(2+) binding motif. We show that, for the constructed EGFP variants, the C2 mutation is sufficient to facilitate the production of fluorescence in both bacterial and mammalian cells. Further addition of the mutation F99S decreases the folding efficiency of these variants although a similar effect is not detectable for EGFP, likely due to the already greatly enhanced mutation F64L/S65T from the original GFP, which hastens the chromophore formation. The extinction coefficient and quantum yield of purified proteins of each construct were also examined to compare the effects of both C2 and C3 mutations on protein spectroscopic properties. Our quantitative analyses of the effect of C2 and C3 mutations on the folding and formation of GFP chromophore that undergoes different folding trajectories in bacterial versus mammalian cells provide insights into the development of fluorescent protein-based analytical sensors.

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