Minimizing the impact of photoswitching of fluorescent proteins on FRAP analysis.

Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Biophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 3.83). 04/2012; 102(7):1656-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.02.029
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) is a widely used imaging technique for measuring the mobility of fluorescently tagged proteins in living cells. Although FRAP presumes that high-intensity illumination causes only irreversible photobleaching, reversible photoswitching of many fluorescent molecules, including GFP, can also occur. Here, we show that this photoswitching is likely to contaminate many FRAPs of GFP, and worse, the size of its contribution can be up to 60% under different experimental conditions, making it difficult to compare FRAPs from different studies. We develop a procedure to correct FRAPs for photoswitching and apply it to FRAPs of the GFP-tagged histone H2B, which, depending on the precise photobleaching conditions exhibits apparent fast components ranging from 9-36% before correction and ∼1% after correction. We demonstrate how this ∼1% fast component of H2B-GFP can be used as a benchmark both to estimate the role of photoswitching in previous FRAP studies of TATA binding proteins (TBP) and also as a tool to minimize the contribution of photoswitching to tolerable levels in future FRAP experiments. In sum, we show how the impact of photoswitching on FRAP can be identified, minimized, and corrected.


Available from: Davide Mazza, May 30, 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In eukaryotic cells, post-translational histone modifications have an important role in gene regulation. Starting with early work on histone acetylation, a variety of residue-specific modifications have now been linked to RNA polymerase II (RNAP2) activity, but it remains unclear if these markers are active regulators of transcription or just passive byproducts. This is because studies have traditionally relied on fixed cell populations, meaning temporal resolution is limited to minutes at best, and correlated factors may not actually be present in the same cell at the same time. Complementary approaches are therefore needed to probe the dynamic interplay of histone modifications and RNAP2 with higher temporal resolution in single living cells. Here we address this problem by developing a system to track residue-specific histone modifications and RNAP2 phosphorylation in living cells by fluorescence microscopy. This increases temporal resolution to the tens-of-seconds range. Our single-cell analysis reveals histone H3 lysine-27 acetylation at a gene locus can alter downstream transcription kinetics by as much as 50%, affecting two temporally separate events. First acetylation enhances the search kinetics of transcriptional activators, and later the acetylation accelerates the transition of RNAP2 from initiation to elongation. Signatures of the latter can be found genome-wide using chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing. We argue that this regulation leads to a robust and potentially tunable transcriptional response.
    Nature 09/2014; DOI:10.1038/nature13714 · 42.35 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) is a widely used imaging technique for measuring protein dynamics in live cells that has provided many important biological insights. Although FRAP presumes that the conversion of a fluorophore from a bright to a dark state is irreversible, GFP as well as other genetically encoded fluorescent proteins now in common use can also exhibit a reversible conversion known as photoswitching. Various studies have shown how photoswitching can cause at least four different artifacts in FRAP, leading to false conclusions about various biological phenomena, including the erroneous identification of anomalous diffusion or the overestimation of the freely diffusible fraction of a cellular protein. Unfortunately, identifying and then correcting these artifacts is difficult. Here we report a new characteristic of an organic fluorophore tetramethylrhodamine bound to the HaloTag protein (TMR-HaloTag), which like GFP can be genetically encoded, but which directly and simply overcomes the artifacts caused by photoswitching in FRAP. We show that TMR exhibits virtually no photoswitching in live cells under typical imaging conditions for FRAP. We also demonstrate that TMR eliminates all of the four reported photoswitching artifacts in FRAP. Finally, we apply this photoswitching-free FRAP with TMR to show that the chromatin decondensation following UV irradiation does not involve loss of nucleosomes from the damaged DNA. In sum, we demonstrate that the TMR Halo label provides a genetically encoded fluorescent tag very well suited for accurate FRAP experiments.
    PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e107730. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0107730 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The mechanism whereby the same genome can give rise to different cell types with different gene expression profiles is a fundamental problem in biology. Chromatin organization and dynamics have been shown to vary with altered gene expression in different cultured animal cell types, but there is little evidence yet from whole organisms linking chromatin dynamics with development. Here, we used both fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and two-photon photoactivation to show that in stem cells from Arabidopsis thaliana roots the mobility of the core histone H2B, as judged by exchange dynamics, is lower than in the surrounding cells of the meristem. However, as cells progress from meristematic to fully differentiated, core histones again become less mobile and more strongly bound to chromatin. We show that these transitions are largely mediated by changes in histone acetylation. We further show that altering histone acetylation levels, either in a mutant or by drug treatment, alters both the histone mobility and markers of development and differentiation. We propose that plant stem cells have relatively inactive chromatin, but they keep the potential to divide and differentiate into more dynamic states, and that these states are at least in part determined by histone acetylation levels. © 2014 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.
    The Plant Cell 12/2014; 26(12). DOI:10.1105/tpc.114.133793 · 9.58 Impact Factor