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Nat Protoc. 2016 Dec;11(12):2328-2356. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2016.114. Epub 2016 Oct 27.

T-REX on-demand redox targeting in live cells.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.
Department of Biochemistry, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA.


This protocol describes targetable reactive electrophiles and oxidants (T-REX)-a live-cell-based tool designed to (i) interrogate the consequences of specific and time-resolved redox events, and (ii) screen for bona fide redox-sensor targets. A small-molecule toolset comprising photocaged precursors to specific reactive redox signals is constructed such that these inert precursors specifically and irreversibly tag any HaloTag-fused protein of interest (POI) in mammalian and Escherichia coli cells. Syntheses of the alkyne-functionalized endogenous reactive signal 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE(alkyne)) and the HaloTag-targetable photocaged precursor to HNE(alkyne) (also known as Ht-PreHNE or HtPHA) are described. Low-energy light prompts photo-uncaging (t1/2 <1-2 min) and target-specific modification. The targeted modification of the POI enables precisely timed and spatially controlled redox events with no off-target modification. Two independent pathways are described, along with a simple setup to functionally validate known targets or discover novel sensors. T-REX sidesteps mixed responses caused by uncontrolled whole-cell swamping with reactive signals. Modification and downstream response can be analyzed by in-gel fluorescence, proteomics, qRT-PCR, immunofluorescence, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based and dual-luciferase reporters, or flow cytometry assays. T-REX targeting takes 4 h from initial probe treatment. Analysis of targeted redox responses takes an additional 4-24 h, depending on the nature of the pathway and the type of readouts used.

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