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4 Publications

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    08/01/20 | Sensing cellular biochemistry with fluorescent chemical–genetic hybrids
    Gautier A, Tebo AG
    Current Opinion in Chemical Biology. 08/2020;57:58–64. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2020.04.005

    Fluorescent biosensors are powerful tools for the detection of biochemical events inside cells with high spatiotemporal resolution. Biosensors based on fluorescent proteins often suffer from issues with photostability and brightness. On the other hand, hybrid, chemical–genetic systems present unique opportunities to combine the strengths of synthetic, organic chemistry with biological macromolecules to generate exquisitely tailored semisynthetic sensors.

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    09/25/20 | Integrated structure-function dataset reveals key mechanisms underlying photochromic fluorescent proteins
    Zitter ED, Hugelier S, Duwé S, Vandenberg W, Tebo AG, Meervelt LV, Dedecker P
    bioRxiv. 09/2020:2020.09.25.313528. doi: 10.1101/2020.09.25.313528

    Photochromic fluorescent proteins have become versatile tools in the life sciences, though our understanding of their structure-function relation is limited. Starting from a single scaffold, we have developed a range of 27 photochromic fluorescent proteins that cover a broad range of spectroscopic properties, yet differ only in one or two mutations. We also determined 43 different crystal structures of these mutants. Correlation and principal component analysis of the spectroscopic and structural properties confirmed the complex relationship between structure and spectroscopy, suggesting that the observed variability does not arise from a limited number of mechanisms, but also allowed us to identify consistent trends and to relate these to the spatial organization around the chromophore. We find that particular changes in spectroscopic properties can come about through multiple different underlying mechanisms, of which the polarity of the chromophore environment and hydrogen bonding of the chromophore are key modulators. Furthermore, some spectroscopic parameters, such as the photochromism, appear to be largely determined by a single or a few structural properties, while other parameters, such as the absorption maximum, do not allow a clear identification of a single cause. We also highlight the role of water molecules close to the chromophore in influencing photochromism. We anticipate that our dataset can open opportunities for the development and evaluation of new and existing protein engineering methods.

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    04/05/20 | Orthogonal fluorescent chemogenetic reporters for multicolor imaging
    Tebo AG, Moeyaert B, Thauvin M, Carlon-Andres I, Böken D, Volovitch M, Padilla-Parra S, Dedecker P, Vriz S, Gautier A
    Nature Chemical Biology. 04/2020:1–9. doi: 10.1038/s41589-020-0611-0

    Spectrally separated fluorophores allow the observation of multiple targets simultaneously inside living cells, leading to a deeper understanding of the molecular interplay that regulates cell function and fate. Chemogenetic systems combining a tag and a synthetic fluorophore provide certain advantages over fluorescent proteins since there is no requirement for chromophore maturation. Here, we present the engineering of a set of spectrally orthogonal fluorogen-activating tags based on the fluorescence-activating and absorption shifting tag (FAST) that are compatible with two-color, live-cell imaging. The resulting tags, greenFAST and redFAST, demonstrate orthogonality not only in their fluorogen recognition capabilities, but also in their one- and two-photon absorption profiles. This pair of orthogonal tags allowed the creation of a two-color cell cycle sensor capable of detecting very short, early cell cycles in zebrafish development and the development of split complementation systems capable of detecting multiple protein–protein interactions by live-cell fluorescence microscopy. The fluorescent chemogenetic reporters greenFAST and redFAST were engineered by protein engineering. They display orthogonal fluorogen recognition and spectral properties allowing efficient multicolor imaging of proteins in live cells and organisms.

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    06/22/20 | A far‐red fluorescent chemogenetic reporter for in vivo molecular imaging
    Li C, Tebo AG, Thauvin M, Plamont M, Volovitch M, Morin X, Vriz S, Gautier A
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 06/2020:. doi: 10.1002/anie.202006576

    Far‐red emitting fluorescent labels are highly desirable for spectral multiplexing and deep tissue imaging. Here, we describe the generation of frFAST (far‐red Fluorescence Activating and absorption Shifting Tag), a 14‐kDa monomeric protein that forms a bright far‐red fluorescent assembly with (4‐hydroxy‐3‐methoxy‐phenyl)allylidene rhodanine (HPAR‐3OM). As HPAR‐3OM is essentially non‐ fluorescent in solution and in cells, frFAST can be imaged with high contrast in presence of free HPAR‐3OM, which allowed the rapid and efficient imaging of frFAST fusions in live cells, zebrafish embryo/larvae and chicken embryo. Beyond enabling genetic encoding of far‐red fluorescence, frFAST allowed the design of a far‐ red chemogenetic reporter of protein‐protein interactions, demonstrating its great potential for the design of innovative far‐red emitting biosensors.

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