Cis-trans photoisomerization of fluorescent-protein chromophores.
ABSTRACT Photochromic variants of fluorescent proteins are opening the way to a number of opportunities for high-sensitivity regioselective studies in the cellular environment and may even lead to applications in information and communication technology. Yet, the detailed photophysical processes at the basis of photoswitching have not been fully clarified. In this paper, we used synthetic FP chromophores to clarify the photophysical processes associated with the photochromic behavior. In particular, we investigated the spectral modification of synthetic chromophore analogues of wild-type green fluorescent protein (GFP), Y66F GFP (BFPF), and Y66W GFP (CFP) upon irradiation in solutions of different polarities. We found that the cis-trans photoisomerization mechanism can be induced in all the chromophores. The structural assignments were carried out both by NMR measurements and DFT calculations. Remarkably, we determined for the first time the spectra of neutral trans isomers in different solvents. Finally, we calculated the photoconversion quantum yields by absorption measurements under continuous illumination at different times and by a nanosecond laser-flash photolysis method. Our results indicate that cis-trans photoisomerization is a general mechanism of FP chromophores whose efficiency is modulated by the detailed mutant-specific protein environment.
- SourceAvailable from: Frank Wien[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Cyan fluorescent proteins (CFP) derived from Aequorea victoria GFP, carrying a tryptophan-based chromophore, are widely used as FRET donors in live cell fluorescence imaging experiments. Recently, several CFP variants with near-ultimate photophysical performances were obtained through a mix of site-directed and large scale random mutagenesis. To understand the structural bases of these improvements, we have studied more specifically the consequences of the single-site T65S mutation. We find that all CFP variants carrying the T65S mutation not only display an increased fluorescence quantum yield and a simpler fluorescence emission decay, but also show an improved pH stability and strongly reduced reversible photoswitching reactions. Most prominently, the Cerulean-T65S variant reaches performances nearly equivalent to those of mTurquoise, with QY = 0.84, an almost pure single exponential fluorescence decay and an outstanding stability in the acid pH range (pK(1/2) = 3.6). From the detailed examination of crystallographic structures of different CFPs and GFPs, we conclude that these improvements stem from a shift in the thermodynamic balance between two well defined configurations of the residue 65 hydroxyl. These two configurations differ in their relative stabilization of a rigid chromophore, as well as in relaying the effects of Glu222 protonation at acid pHs. Our results suggest a simple method to greatly improve numerous FRET reporters used in cell imaging, and bring novel insights into the general structure-photophysics relationships of fluorescent proteins.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(11):e49149. · 3.73 Impact Factor
- Chemical Reviews 05/2012; 112(7):4308-27. · 41.30 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Light-controlled modification of the fluorescence emission properties of proteins of the GFP family is of crucial importance for many imaging applications including superresolution microscopy. Here, we have studied the reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent protein mIrisGFP using optical spectroscopy. By analyzing the pH dependence of isomerization and protonation equilibria and the isomerization kinetics, we have obtained insight into the coupling of the chromophore to the surrounding protein moiety and a better understanding of the photoswitching mechanism. A different acid-base environment of the chromophore's protonating group in its two isomeric forms, which can be inferred from the x-ray structures of IrisFP, is key to the photoswitching function and ensures that isomerization and protonation are correlated. Amino acids near the chromophore, especially Glu212, rearrange upon isomerization, and Glu212 protonation modulates the chromophore pK(a). In mIrisGFP, the cis chromophore protonates in two steps, with pK(cis) of 5.3 and 6, which is much lower than pK(trans) (>10). Based on these results, we have put forward a mechanistic scheme that explains how the combination of isomeric and acid-base properties of the chromophore in its protein environment can produce negative and positive photoswitching modes.Biophysical Journal 12/2012; 103(12):2521-31. · 3.67 Impact Factor