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2 Janelia Publications

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    01/15/22 | Fluorescent chemigenetic actuators and indicators for use in living animals.
    Farrants H, Tebo AG
    Current Opinion in Pharmacology. 2022 Jan 15;62:159-167. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2021.12.007

    Fluorescent indicators and actuators provide a means to optically observe and perturb dynamic events in living animals. Although chemistry and protein engineering have contributed many useful tools to observe and perturb cells, an emerging strategy is to use chemigenetics: systems in which a small molecule dye interacts with a genetically encoded protein domain. Here we review chemigenetic strategies that have been successfully employed in living animals as photosensitizers for photoablation experiments, fluorescent cell cycle indicators, and fluorescent indicators for studying dynamic biological signals. Although these strategies at times suffer from challenges, e.g. delivery of the small molecule and assembly of the chemigenetic unit in living animals, the advantages of using small molecules with high brightness, low photobleaching, no chromophore maturation time and expanded color palette, combined with the ability to genetically target them to specific cell types, make chemigenetic fluorescent actuators and indicators an attractive strategy for use in living animals.

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    02/04/21 | Structure-Function Dataset Reveals Environment Effects within a Fluorescent Protein Model System.
    De Zitter E, Hugelier S, Duwé S, Vandenberg W, Tebo AG, Van Meervelt L, Dedecker P
    Angew Chemie (International Edition English). 2021 Feb 04:. doi: 10.1002/anie.202015201

    Anisotropic environments can drastically alter the spectroscopy and photochemistry of molecules, leading to complex structure-function relationships. We examined this using fluorescent proteins as easy-to-modify model systems. Starting from a single scaffold, we have developed a range of 27 photochromic fluorescent proteins that cover a broad range of spectroscopic properties, including the determination of 43 crystal structures. Correlation and principal component analysis confirmed the complex relationship between structure and spectroscopy, but also allowed us to identify consistent trends and to relate these to the spatial organization. We find that changes in spectroscopic properties can come about through multiple underlying mechanisms, of which polarity, hydrogen bonding and presence of water molecules are key modulators. We anticipate that our findings and rich structure/spectroscopy dataset can open opportunities for the development and evaluation of new and existing protein engineering methods.

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