A method to delete in-phase codons throughout a defined target region of a gene has been developed. This approach, named the codon-based random deletion (COBARDE) method, is able to delete complete codons in a random and combinatorial mode. Robustness, automation and fine-tuning of the mutagenesis rate are essential characteristics of the method, which is based on the assembly of oligonucleotides and on the use of two transient orthogonal protecting groups during the chemical synthesis. The performance of the method for protein function evolution was demonstrated by changing the substrate specificity of TEM-1 β-lactamase. Functional ceftazidime-resistant β-lactamase variants containing several deleted residues inside the catalytically important omega-loop region were found. The results show that the COBARDE method is a useful new molecular tool to access previously unexplorable sequence space.
The green fluorescent protein (GFP) from Aequorea victoria is a versatile reporter protein for monitoring gene expression and protein localization in a variety of cells and organisms. Despite many early successes using this reporter, wild type GFP is suboptimal for most applications due to low fluorescence intensity when excited by blue light (488 nm), a significant lag in the development of fluorescence after protein synthesis, complex photoisomerization of the GFP chromophore and poor expression in many higher eukaryotes. To improve upon these qualities, we have combined a mutant of GFP with a significantly larger extinction coefficient for excitation at 488 nm with a re-engineered GFP gene sequence containing codons preferentially found in highly expressed human proteins. The combination of improved fluorescence intensity and higher expression levels yield an enhanced GFP which provides greater sensitivity in most systems.
The green fluorescent protein (GFP) was originally isolated from the Jellyfish Aequorea Victoria that fluoresces green when exposed to blue light. GFP protein is composed of 238 amino acids with the molecular mass of 26.9 kD. The GFP gene is frequently used in cellular and molecular biology as a reporter gene. To date, many bacterial, yeast, fungal, plants, fly and mammalian cells, including human, have been created which express GFP. Martin Chalfie, Osamu Shimomura, and Roger Tsien were awarded the 2008 noble prize in chemistry for their discovery and development of GFP. In many studies on mammalian cells, GFP gene is introduced into cells using vector-based systems or a recombinant virus to track the location of a target protein or to study the expression level of the gene of interest, but in these studies there is no selection marker to normalize transfection. According to the importance of neomycin gene as a selection marker in mammalian cells, we aimed to produce a GFP expression vector that contains neomycin gene. GFP gene was separated from pEGFP-N1 vector and was inserted in the back-bone of pCDNA3.1/His/LacZ vector that contained the neomycin gene. The resulted vector contained GFP beside neomycin gene.
Expression; Green Flourescent Protein; Neomycin; Resistance gene; Vector
Diversification of protein sequence-structure space is a major concern in protein engineering. Deletion mutagenesis can generate a protein sequence-structure space different from substitution mutagenesis mediated space, but it has not been widely used in protein engineering compared to substitution mutagenesis, because it causes a relatively huge range of structural perturbations of target proteins which often inactivates the proteins. In this study, we demonstrate that, using green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a model system, the drawback of the deletional protein engineering can be overcome by employing the protein structure with high stability. The systematic dissection of N-terminal, C-terminal and internal sequences of GFPs with two different stabilities showed that GFP with high stability (s-GFP), was more tolerant to the elimination of amino acids compared to a GFP with normal stability (n-GFP). The deletion studies of s-GFP enabled us to achieve three interesting variants viz. s-DL4, s-N14, and s-C225, which could not been obtained from n-GFP. The deletion of 191–196 loop sequences led to the variant s-DL4 that was expressed predominantly as insoluble form but mostly active. The s-N14 and s-C225 are the variants without the amino acid residues involving secondary structures around N- and C-terminals of GFP fold respectively, exhibiting comparable biophysical properties of the n-GFP. Structural analysis of the variants through computational modeling study gave a few structural insights that can explain the spectral properties of the variants. Our study suggests that the protein sequence-structure space of deletion mutants can be more efficiently explored by employing the protein structure with higher stability.
The crystal structure of a monomeric mutant of Azami-Green (mAG) from G. fascicularis was determined at 2.2 Å resolution.
Monomeric Azami-Green (mAG) from the stony coral Galaxea fascicularis is the first known monomeric green-emitting fluorescent protein that is not a variant of Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (avGFP). These two green fluorescent proteins are only 27% identical in their amino-acid sequences. mAG is more similar in its amino-acid sequence to four fluorescent proteins: Dendra2 (a green-to-red irreversibly photoconverting fluorescent protein), Dronpa (a bright-and-dark reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent protein), KikG (a tetrameric green-emitting fluorescent protein) and Kaede (another green-to-red irreversibly photoconverting fluorescent protein). To reveal the structural basis of stable green emission by mAG, the 2.2 Å crystal structure of mAG has been determined and compared with the crystal structures of avGFP, Dronpa, Dendra2, Kaede and KikG. The structural comparison revealed that the chromophore formed by Gln62-Tyr63-Gly64 (QYG) and the fixing of the conformation of the imidazole ring of His193 by hydrogen bonds and van der Waals contacts involving His193, Arg66 and Thr69 are likely to be required for the stable green emission of mAG. The crystal structure of mAG will contribute to the design and development of new monomeric fluorescent proteins with faster maturation, brighter fluorescence, improved photostability, new colours and other preferable properties as alternatives to avGFP and its variants.
fluorescent proteins; β-barrel; green emission
We have studied the localization of synaptogyrin family members in
vivo. Both native and green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged
Caenorhabditis elegans synaptogyrin (SNG-1) are
expressed in neurons and synaptically localized. Deletion and
mutational analysis with the use of GFP-tagged SNG-1 has defined a 38
amino acid sequence within the C terminus of SNG-1 and a single
arginine in the cytoplasmic loop between transmembrane domain 2 and 3
that are required for SNG-1 localization. These domains may represent
components of signals that target synaptogyrin for endocytosis from the
plasma membrane and direct synaptogyrin to synaptic vesicles,
respectively. In chimeric studies, these regions were sufficient to
relocalize cellugyrin, a nonneuronal form of synaptogyrin, from
nonsynaptic regions such as the sensory dendrites and the cell body to
synaptic vesicles. Furthermore, GFP-tagged rat synaptogyrin is
synaptically localized in neurons of C. elegans and in
cultured hippocampal neurons. Similarly, the C-terminal domain of rat
synaptogyrin is necessary for localization in hippocampal neurons. Our
study suggests that the mechanisms for synaptogyrin localization are
likely to be conserved from C. elegans to vertebrates.
Green fluorescent protein (GFP) from a jellyfish, Aequorea victoria, and its mutants are widely used in biomedical studies as fluorescent markers. In spite of the enormous efforts of academia and industry toward generating its red fluorescent mutants, no GFP variants with emission maximum at more than 529 nm have been developed during the 15 years since its cloning. Here, we used a new strategy of molecular evolution aimed at generating a red-emitting mutant of GFP. As a result, we have succeeded in producing the first GFP mutant that substantially matures to the red-emitting state with excitation and emission maxima at 555 and 585 nm, respectively. A novel, nonoxidative mechanism for formation of the red chromophore in this mutant that includes a dehydration of the Ser65 side chain has been proposed. Model experiments showed that the novel dual-color GFP mutant with green and red emission is suitable for multicolor flow cytometry as an additional color since it is clearly separable from both green and red fluorescent tags.
A monomeric mutant of Azami-Green from G. fascicularis was expressed, purified and crystallized using the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method. The crystal belonged to space group P1 and diffracted X-rays to 2.20 Å resolution.
Monomeric Azami-Green (mAG) from the stony coral Galaxea fascicularis is the first monomeric green-emitting fluorescent protein that is not a derivative of Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (avGFP). mAG and avGFP are 27% identical in amino-acid sequence. Diffraction-quality crystals of recombinant mAG were obtained by the sitting-drop vapour-diffusion method using PEG 3350 as the precipitant. The mAG crystal diffracted X-rays to 2.20 Å resolution on beamline AR-NW12A at the Photon Factory (Tsukuba, Japan). The crystal belonged to space group P1, with unit-cell parameters a = 41.78, b = 51.72, c = 52.89 Å, α = 90.96, β = 103.41, γ = 101.79°. The Matthews coefficient (V
M = 2.10 Å3 Da−1) indicated that the crystal contained two mAG molecules per asymmetric unit.
Azami-Green; green-emitting fluorescent proteins; Galaxea fascicularis
In the use of non-antibody proteins as affinity reagents, diversity has generally been derived from oligonucleotide-encoded random amino acids. Although specific binders of high-affinity have been selected from such libraries, random oligonucleotides often encode stop codons and amino acid combinations that affect protein folding. Recently it has been shown that specific antibody binding loops grafted into heterologous proteins can confer the specific antibody binding activity to the created chimeric protein. In this paper, we examine the use of such antibody binding loops as diversity elements. We first show that we are able to graft a lysozyme-binding antibody loop into green fluorescent protein (GFP), creating a fluorescent protein with lysozyme-binding activity. Subsequently we have developed a PCR method to harvest random binding loops from antibodies and insert them at predefined sites in any protein, using GFP as an example. The majority of such GFP chimeras remain fluorescent, indicating that binding loops do not disrupt folding. This method can be adapted to the creation of other nucleic acid libraries where diversity is flanked by regions of relative sequence conservation, and its availability sets the stage for the use of antibody loop libraries as diversity elements for selection experiments.
We constructed gfph, a synthetic version of the jellyfish Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (gfp) cDNA that is adapted for high-level expression in mammalian cells, especially those of human origin. A total of 92 base substitutions were made in 88 codons in order to change the codon usage within the gfp10 coding sequence so that it was more appropriate for expression in mammalian cells. We also describe a series of versatile recombinant adeno-associated virus and adenovirus vectors for delivery and expression of genes into mammalian cells and, using these vectors, demonstrate the efficient transduction and expression of the gfph gene in the human cell line 293 and also in vivo, within neurosensory cells of guinea pig eye. Cells infected with recombinant adeno-associated virus-GFPH can be readily sorted by fluorescence-activated cell sorting, suggesting that the newly designed gfph gene could be widely used as a reporter in many gene delivery technologies, including human gene therapy.
In the 15 years that have passed since the cloning of Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (avGFP), the expanding set of fluorescent protein (FP) variants has become entrenched as an indispensable toolkit for cell biology research. One of the latest additions to the toolkit is monomeric teal FP (mTFP1), a bright and photostable FP derived from Clavularia cyan FP. To gain insight into the molecular basis for the blue-shifted fluorescence emission we undertook a mutagenesis-based study of residues in the immediate environment of the chromophore. We also employed site-directed and random mutagenesis in combination with library screening to create new hues of mTFP1-derived variants with wavelength-shifted excitation and emission spectra.
Our results demonstrate that the protein-chromophore interactions responsible for blue-shifting the absorbance and emission maxima of mTFP1 operate independently of the chromophore structure. This conclusion is supported by the observation that the Tyr67Trp and Tyr67His mutants of mTFP1 retain a blue-shifted fluorescence emission relative to their avGFP counterparts (that is, Tyr66Trp and Tyr66His). Based on previous work with close homologs, His197 and His163 are likely to be the residues with the greatest contribution towards blue-shifting the fluorescence emission. Indeed we have identified the substitutions His163Met and Thr73Ala that abolish or disrupt the interactions of these residues with the chromophore. The mTFP1-Thr73Ala/His163Met double mutant has an emission peak that is 23 nm red-shifted from that of mTFP1 itself. Directed evolution of this double mutant resulted in the development of mWasabi, a new green fluorescing protein that offers certain advantages over enhanced avGFP (EGFP). To assess the usefulness of mTFP1 and mWasabi in live cell imaging applications, we constructed and imaged more than 20 different fusion proteins.
Based on the results of our mutagenesis study, we conclude that the two histidine residues in close proximity to the chromophore are approximately equal determinants of the blue-shifted fluorescence emission of mTFP1. With respect to live cell imaging applications, the mTFP1-derived mWasabi should be particularly useful in two-color imaging in conjunction with a Sapphire-type variant or as a fluorescence resonance energy transfer acceptor with a blue FP donor. In all fusions attempted, both mTFP1 and mWasabi give patterns of fluorescent localization indistinguishable from that of well-established avGFP variants.
The pH is an important parameter controlling many metabolic and signalling pathways in living cells. Recombinant fluorescent pH indicators (pHluorins) have come into vogue for monitoring cellular pH. They are derived from the most popular Aequorea victoria GFP (Av-GFP). Here, we present a novel fluorescent pH reporter protein from the orange seapen Ptilosarcus gurneyi (Pt-GFP) and compare its properties with pHluorins for expression and use in plants.
pHluorins have a higher pH-sensitivity. However, Pt-GFP has a broader pH-responsiveness, an excellent dynamic ratio range and a better acid stability. We demonstrate how Pt-GFP expressing Arabidopsis thaliana report cytosolic pH-clamp and changes of cytosolic pH in the response to anoxia and salt-stress.
Pt-GFP appears to be the better choice when used for in vivo-recording of cellular pH in plants.
Green fluorescent protein (GFP) from jellyfish Aequorea victoria is the most extensively studied and widely used in cell biology protein. GFP-like proteins constitute a fast growing family as several naturally occurring GFP-like proteins have been discovered and enhanced mutants of Aequorea GFP have been created. These mutants differ from wild-type GFP by conformational stability, quantum yield, spectroscopic properties (positions of absorption and fluorescence spectra) and by photochemical properties. GFP-like proteins are very diverse, as they can be not only green, but also blue, orange-red, far-red, cyan, and yellow. They also can have dual-color fluorescence (e.g., green and red) or be non-fluorescent. Some of them possess kindling property, some are photoactivatable, and some are photoswitchable. This review is an attempt to characterize the main color groups of GFP-like proteins, describe their structure and mechanisms of chromophore formation, systemize data on their conformational stability and summarize the main trends of their utilization as markers and biosensors in cell and molecular biology.
Fluorescent proteins; chromoproteins; photoactivated proteins
The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) UL35 open reading frame (ORF) encodes a 12-kDa capsid protein designated VP26. VP26 is located on the outer surface of the capsid specifically on the tips of the hexons that constitute the capsid shell. The bioluminescent jellyfish (Aequorea victoria) green fluorescent protein (GFP) was fused in frame with the UL35 ORF to generate a VP26-GFP fusion protein. This fusion protein was fluorescent and localized to distinct regions within the nuclei of transfected cells following infection with wild-type virus. The VP26-GFP marker was introduced into the HSV-1 (KOS) genome resulting in recombinant plaques that were fluorescent. A virus, designated K26GFP, was isolated and purified and was shown to grow as well as the wild-type virus in cell culture. An analysis of the intranuclear capsids formed in K26GFP-infected cells revealed that the fusion protein was incorporated into A, B, and C capsids. Furthermore, the fusion protein incorporated into the virion particle was fluorescent as judged by fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis of infected cells in the absence of de novo protein synthesis. Cells infected with K26GFP exhibited a punctate nuclear fluorescence at early times in the replication cycle. At later times during infection a generalized cytoplasmic and nuclear fluorescence, including fluorescence at the cell membranes, was observed, confirming visually that the fusion protein was incorporated into intranuclear capsids and mature virions.
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 (pK1/2 = 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.
These investigations characterize an in vitro model for generating excess intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). This novel model may be useful in the identification and delineation of cellular mechanisms associated with aging due to the link between age and excess oxidative events. The human cell line, MCF7, was stably transfected using the pSV3.neo plasmid housing a gene encoding the Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (GFP). Transfected cells were analyzed for maintenance of GFP over time, showing stability of the GFP gene. These studies demonstrate that the presence of fluorescing GFP significantly increases intracellular ROS, creating oxidative stress in these cells. Antioxidant supplementation was evaluated to determine the effectiveness of intracellular H2O2 reduction. The results demonstrate that supplementation with a potent antioxidant, such as reduced glutathione, protects cells from oxidative damage by decreasing intracellular concentrations of H2O2. This model for intracellular generation of excess ROS establishes a clear method by which the utility of antioxidant supplementation to protect against intracellularly generated reactive oxygen species may be evaluated.
aging; green fluorescent protein; hydrogen peroxide; mammalian cellular model; oxidative stress; reactive oxygen species
The sensor protein KdpD of Escherichia coli is composed of a large N-terminal hydrophilic region (aa 1–400), four transmembrane regions (aa 401–498) and a large hydrophilic region (aa 499–894) at the C-terminus. KdpD requires the signal recognition particle (SRP) for its targeting to the membrane. Deletions within KdpD show that the first 50 residues are required for SRP-driven membrane insertion. A fusion protein of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) with KdpD is found localized at the membrane only when SRP is present. The membrane targeting of GFP was not observed when the first 50 KdpD residues were deleted. A truncated mutant of KdpD containing only the first 25 amino acids fused to GFP lost its ability to specifically interact with SRP, whereas a specific interaction between SRP and the first 48 amino acids of KdpD fused to GFP was confirmed by pull-down experiments. Conclusively, a small amphiphilic region of 27 residues within the amino-terminal domain of KdpD (aa 22–48) is recognized by SRP and targets the protein to the membrane. This shows that membrane proteins with a large N-terminal region in the cytoplasm can be membrane-targeted early on to allow co-translational membrane insertion of their distant transmembrane regions.
Members of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) family share sequence similarity and the 11-stranded β-barrel fold. Fluorescence or bright coloration, observed in many members of this family, is enabled by the intrinsic properties of the polypeptide chain itself, without the requirement for cofactors. Amino acid sequence of fluorescent proteins can be altered by genetic engineering to produce variants with different spectral properties, suitable for direct visualization of molecular and cellular processes. Naturally occurring GFP-like proteins include fluorescent proteins from cnidarians of the Hydrozoa and Anthozoa classes, and from copepods of the Pontellidae family, as well as non-fluorescent proteins from Anthozoa. Recently, an mRNA encoding a fluorescent GFP-like protein AmphiGFP, related to GFP from Pontellidae, has been isolated from the lancelet Branchiostoma floridae, a cephalochordate (Deheyn et al., Biol Bull, 2007 213:95).
We report that the nearly-completely sequenced genome of Branchiostoma floridae encodes at least 12 GFP-like proteins. The evidence for expression of six of these genes can be found in the EST databases. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that a gene encoding a GFP-like protein was present in the common ancestor of Cnidaria and Bilateria. We synthesized and expressed two of the lancelet GFP-like proteins in mammalian cells and in bacteria. One protein, which we called LanFP1, exhibits bright green fluorescence in both systems. The other protein, LanFP2, is identical to AmphiGFP in amino acid sequence and is moderately fluorescent. Live imaging of the adult animals revealed bright green fluorescence at the anterior end and in the basal region of the oral cirri, as well as weaker green signals throughout the body of the animal. In addition, red fluorescence was observed in oral cirri, extending to the tips.
GFP-like proteins may have been present in the primitive Metazoa. Their evolutionary history includes losses in several metazoan lineages and expansion in cephalochordates that resulted in the largest repertoire of GFP-like proteins known thus far in a single organism. Lancelet expresses several of its GFP-like proteins, which appear to have distinct spectral properties and perhaps diverse functions.
This article was reviewed by Shamil Sunyaev, Mikhail Matz (nominated by I. King Jordan) and L. Aravind.
The NTB-VPg protein of Tomato ringspot nepovirus is an integral membrane protein found in association with endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-derived membranes active in virus replication. A transmembrane helix present in a hydrophobic region at the C terminus of the NTB domain was previously shown to traverse the membranes, resulting in the translocation of the VPg domain in the lumen. We have now conducted an in planta analysis of membrane-targeting domains within NTB-VPg using in-frame fusions to the green fluorescent protein (GFP). As expected, the entire NTB-VPg protein directed the GFP fluorescence to ER membranes. GFP fusion proteins containing the C-terminal 86 amino acids of NTB-VPg also associated with ER membranes, resulting in ER-specific glycosylation at a naturally occurring glycosylation site in the VPg domain. Deletion of the hydrophobic region prevented the membrane association. The N-terminal 80 amino acids of NTB were also sufficient to direct the GFP fluorescence to intracellular membranes. A putative amphipathic helix in this region was necessary and sufficient to promote membrane association of the fusion proteins. Using in vitro membrane association assays and glycosylation site mapping, we show that the N terminus of NTB can be translocated in the lumen at least in vitro. This translocation was dependent on the presence of the putative amphipathic helix, suggesting that oligomeric forms of this helix traverse the membrane. Taken together, our results suggest that at least two distinct elements play a key role in the insertion of NTB-VPg in the membranes: a C-terminal transmembrane helix and an N-terminal amphipathic helix. An updated model of the topology of the protein in the membrane is presented.
Most RNA viruses remodel the endomembrane network to promote virus replication, maturation, or egress. Rearrangement of cellular membranes is a crucial component of viral pathogenesis. The PVX TGBp2 protein induces vesicles of the granular type to bud from the endoplasmic reticulum network. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) was fused to the PVX TGBp2 coding sequence and inserted into the viral genome and into pRTL2 plasmids to study protein subcellular targeting in the presence and absence of virus infection. Mutations were introduced into the central domain of TGBp2, which contains a stretch of conserved amino acids. Deletion of a 10-amino-acid segment (m2 mutation) overlapping the segment of conserved residues eliminated the granular vesicle and inhibited virus movement. GFP-TGBp2m2 proteins accumulated in enlarged vesicles. Substitution of individual conserved residues in the same region similarly inhibited virus movement and caused the mutant GFP-TGBp2 fusion proteins to accumulate in enlarged vesicles. These results identify a novel element in the PVX TGBp2 protein which determines vesicle morphology. In addition, the data indicate that vesicles of the granular type induced by TGBp2 are necessary for PVX plasmodesmata transport.
Zta has a dual role in the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) lytic cycle, acting as a key regulator of EBV lytic gene expression and also being essential for lytic viral DNA replication. Zta's replication function is mediated in part through interactions with the core viral replication proteins. We now show interaction between Zta and the helicase (BBLF4) and map the binding region to within amino acids (aa) 22 to 86 of the Zta activation domain. In immunofluorescence assays, green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged BBLF4 localized to the cytoplasm of transfected cells. Cotransfection of Zta resulted in translocation of BBLF4-GFP into the nucleus indicating interaction between these two proteins. However, Zta with a deletion of aa 24 to 86 was unable to mediate nuclear translocation of BBLF4-GFP. Results obtained with Zta variants carrying deletions across the aa 24 to 86 region indicated more than one contact site for BBLF4 within this domain, and this was reinforced by the behavior of the four-point mutant Zta (m22/26,74/75), which was severely impaired for BBLF4 interaction. Binding of BBLF4 to Zta was confirmed using GST affinity assays. In both cotransfection-replication assays and replication assays performed in EBV-positive P3HR1 cells, the Zta (m22/26,74/75) mutant was replication defective. In Zta-transfected D98-HR1 cells, replication compartments could be detected by immunofluorescence staining using anti-BMRF1 monoclonal antibody. Cells transfected with Zta variants that were defective for helicase binding still formed replication compartments, but Zta was excluded from these compartments. These experiments reveal a role for the Zta-helicase interaction in targeting Zta to sites of viral DNA replication.
The nucleus-localized C2 protein of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus-China (TYLCV-C) is an active suppressor of posttranscriptional gene silencing (PTGS). Consistently, infection with TYLCV-C resulted in PTGS arrest in plants. The C2 protein possesses a functional, arginine-rich nuclear localization signal within the basic amino acid-rich region 17KVQHRIAKKTTRRRR31. When expressed from potato virus X, C2-RRRR31DVGG (in which the four consecutive arginine residues 28RRRR31 were replaced with DVGG) that had been tagged with a green fluorescent protein (GFP) failed to transport GFP into nuclei and was dysfunctional in inducing necrosis and suppressing PTGS in plants. Amino acid substitution mutants C2-K17D-GFP, C2-HR21DV-GFP, and C2-KK25DI-GFP localized to nuclei and produced necrosis, but only C2-K17D-GFP suppressed PTGS. The N-terminal portions C21-31 and C217-31 fused in frame to GFP were capable of targeting GFP to nuclei, but neither caused necrosis nor affected PTGS. Our data establish that nuclear localization is likely required for C2 protein to function in C2-mediated induction of necrosis and suppression of PTGS, which may follow diverse pathways in plants. Possible mechanisms of how the C2 protein involves these biological functions are discussed.
In this study, we examine the fate of the nuclear pool of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe transcription factor Cuf1 in response to variations in copper levels. A nuclear pool of Cuf1-green fluorescent protein (GFP) was generated by expressing a functional cuf1+-GFP allele in the presence of a copper chelator. We then extinguished cuf1+-GFP expression and tracked the changes in the localization of the nuclear pool of Cuf1-GFP in the presence of low or high copper concentrations. Treating cells with copper as well as silver ions resulted in the nuclear export of Cuf1. We identified a leucine-rich nuclear export signal (NES), 349LAALNHISAL358, within the C-terminal region of Cuf1. Mutations in this sequence abrogated Cuf1 export from the nucleus. Furthermore, amino acid substitutions that impair Cuf1 NES function resulted in increased target gene expression and a concomitant cellular hypersensitivity to copper. Export of the wild-type Cuf1 protein was inhibited by leptomycin B (LMB), a specific inhibitor of the nuclear export protein Crm1. We further show that cells expressing a temperature-sensitive mutation in crm1+ exhibit increased nuclear accumulation of Cuf1 at the nonpermissive temperature. Although wild-type Cuf1 is localized in the nucleus in both conditions, we observed that the protein can still be inactivated by copper, resulting in the repression of ctr4+ gene expression in the presence of exogenous copper. These results demonstrate that nuclear accumulation of Cuf1 per se is not sufficient to cause the unregulated expression of the copper transport genes like ctr4+. In addition to nuclear localization, a functional Cys-rich domain or NES element in Cuf1 is required to appropriately regulate copper transport gene expression in response to changes in intracellular copper concentration.
When variably fatty acylated N-terminal amino acid sequences were appended to a green fluorescent reporter protein (GFP), chimeric GFPs were localized to different membranes in a fatty acylation-dependent manner. To explore the mechanism of localization, the properties of acceptor membranes and their interaction with acylated chimeric GFPs were analyzed in COS-7 cells. Myristoylated GFPs containing a palmitoylated or polybasic region colocalized with cholesterol and ganglioside GM1, but not with caveolin, at the plasma membrane and endosomes. A dipalmitoylated GFP chimera colocalized with cholesterol and GM1 at the plasma membrane and with caveolin in the Golgi region. Acylated GFP chimeras did not cofractionate with low-density caveolin-rich lipid rafts prepared with Triton X-100 or detergent-free methods. All GFP chimeras, but not full-length p62c-yes and caveolin, were readily solubilized from membranes with various detergents. These data suggest that, although N-terminal acylation can bring GFP to cholesterol and sphingolipid-enriched membranes, protein-protein interactions are required to localize a given protein to detergent-resistant membranes or caveolin-rich membranes. In addition to restricting acceptor membrane localization, N-terminal fatty acylation could represent an efficient means to enrich the concentration of signaling proteins in the vicinity of detergent-resistant membranes and facilitate protein-protein interactions mediating transfer to a detergent-resistant lipid raft core.
The green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene, gfp, of the jellyfish Aequorea victoria is being used as a reporter system for gene expression and as a marker for tracking prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Cells that have been genetically altered with the gfp gene produce a protein that fluoresces when it is excited by UV light. This unique phenotype allows gfp-tagged cells to be specifically monitored by nondestructive means. In this study we determined whether a gfp-tagged strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens continued to fluoresce under conditions under which the cells were starved, viable but nonculturable (VBNC), or dead. Epifluorescent microscopy, flow cytometry, and spectrofluorometry were used to measure fluorescence intensity in starved, VBNC, and dead or dying cells. Results obtained by using flow cytometry indicated that microcosms containing VBNC cells, which were obtained by incubation under stress conditions (starvation at 37.5°C), fluoresced at an intensity that was at least 80% of the intensity of nonstressed cultures. Similarly, microcosms containing starved cells incubated at 5 and 30°C had fluorescence intensities that were 90 to 110% of the intensity of nonstressed cells. VBNC cells remained fluorescent during the entire 6-month incubation period. In addition, cells starved at 5 or 30°C remained fluorescent for at least 11 months. Treatment of the cells with UV light or incubation at 39 or 50°C resulted in a loss of GFP from the cells. There was a strong correlation between cell death and leakage of GFP from the cells, although the extent of leakage varied depending on the treatment. Most dead cells were not GFP fluorescent, but a small proportion of the dead cells retained some GFP at a lower concentration than the concentration in live cells. Our results suggest that gfp-tagged cells remain fluorescent following starvation and entry into the VBNC state but that fluorescence is lost when the cells die, presumably because membrane integrity is lost.