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Novel Biosensor of Membrane Protein Proximity Based on Fluorogen Activated Proteins

[ Vol. 19 , Issue. 5 ]


Kalin V. Vasilev, Eugenio Gallo, Nathaniel Shank and Jonathan W. Jarvik   Pages 392 - 399 ( 8 )


We describe a novel biosensor system for reporting proximity between cell surface proteins in live cultured cells. The biosensor takes advantage of recently developed fluorogen-activating proteins (FAPs) that display fluorescence only when bound to otherwise-nonfluorescent fluorogen molecules. To demonstrate feasibility for the approach, two recombinant rapamycin-binding proteins were expressed as single-pass plasma membrane proteins in HeLa cells; one of the proteins (scAvd- FRB) carried an extracellular avidin tag; the other (HL1-TO1-FKBP) carried an extracellular FAP. Cells were incubated with a membrane-impermeable bivalent ligand (biotin-PEG2000-DIR) consisting of biotin joined to a dimethyl-indole red (DIR) fluorogen by a polyethylene glycol linker, thus tethering the fluorogen to the scAvd-FRB fusion protein. Addition of rapamycin, which promotes FKBP-FRB dimerization and thereby brings the FAP in close proximity to the tethered fluorogen, led to a significant increase in DIR fluorescence. We call the new proximity assay TEFLA, for tethered fluorogen assay.


Membrane proteins, protein interaction, protein proximity, biosensor, fluorogen-activating protein, tethered fluorogen assay, TEFLA.


Carnegie Mellon University, 4400 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.

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