UMR 8640 : Biophysical chemistry

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Improved chemical-genetic fluorescent markers for live cell microscopy

Biochemistry2018, 57 (39), pp 5648–5653


Inducible chemical-genetic fluorescent markers are promising tools for live cell imaging requiring high spatiotemporal resolution and low background fluorescence. The Fluorescence-Activating and absorption Shifting Tag (FAST) was recently developed to form fluorescent molecular complexes with a family of small, synthetic fluorogenic chromophores (so-called fluorogens). Here, we use rational design to modify the binding pocket of the protein and screen for improved fluorescence performances with four different fluorogens. The introduction of a single mutation results in improvements in both quantum yield and dissociation constant with nearly all fluorogens tested. Our improved FAST (iFAST) allowed the generation of a tandem td-iFAST that forms green and red fluorescent reporters 1.6-fold and 2-fold brighter than EGFP and mCherry, respectively, while having comparable size.



Actin-Network Architecture Regulates Microtubule Dynamics

Curr Biol. (16) 2018 : 2647-2656


In Brief Colin et al. show that branched actin networks block microtubule growth and trigger microtubule disassembly using Xenopus egg extracts and in vitro reconstituted systems. This demonstrates the role of actin-network architecture in regulating microtubule dynamics. 



·     Branched actin networks block microtubule growth and trigger their disassembly 

·     Unbranched actin networks do not interfere with microtubule growth 

·     Branched actin networks perturb meiotic spindle assembly in Xenopusegg extracts


Circularly permuted fluorogenic proteins for the design of modular biosensors

ACS Chem. Biol. 2018

Fluorescent reporters are essential components for the design of optical biosensors able to image intracellular analytes in living cells. Herein, we describe the development of circularly permuted variants of Fluorescence-Activating and absorption-Shifting Tag (FAST) and demonstrate their potential as reporting module in biosensors. Circularly permutated FAST (cpFAST) variants allow one to condition the binding and activation of a fluorogenic ligand (and thus fluorescence) to analyte recognition by coupling them with analyte-binding domains. We demonstrated their use for biosensor design by generating multicolor plug-and-play fluorogenic biosensors for imaging the intracellular levels of Ca2+in living mammalian cells in real-time.

Fluorogenic Probing of Membrane Protein Trafficking

Bioconjugate Chem. 2018


Methods to differentially label cell-surface and intracellular membrane proteins are indispensable for understanding their function and the regulation of their trafficking. We present an effi cient strategy for the rapid and selective fluorescent labeling of membrane proteins based on the chemical-genetic fl uorescent marker FAST (fluorescence activating and absorption-shifting tag). Cell-surface FASTtagged proteins could be selectively and rapidly labeled using fluorogenic membrane-impermeant 4-hydroxybenzylidene rhodanine (HBR) analogs. This approach allows the study of protein trafficking at the plasma membrane with various fluorometric techniques, and opens exciting prospects for the high-throughput screening of small molecules able to restore disease-related trafficking defects.

Resonant out-of-phase fluorescence microscopy and remote imaging overcome spectral limitations

Nature Communications 8, 969 (2017)


We present speed out-of-phase imaging after optical modulation (OPIOM), which exploits reversible photoswitchable fluorophores as fluorescent labels and combines optimized periodic illumination with phase-sensitive detection to specifically retrieve the label signal. Speed OPIOM can extract the fluorescence emission from a targeted label in the presence of spectrally interfering fluorophores and autofluorescence. Up to four fluorescent proteins exhibiting a similar green fluorescence have been distinguished in cells either sequentially or in parallel. Speed OPIOM is compatible with imaging biological processes in real time in live cells. Finally speed OPIOM is not limited to microscopy but is relevant for remote imaging as well, in particular, under ambient light. Thus, speed OPIOM has proved to enable fast and quantitative live microscopic and remote-multiplexed fluorescence imaging of biological samples while filtering out noise, interfering fluorophores, as well as ambient light.