Protein labeling is used by researchers in a variety of fields to help them understand how these important molecules affect the normal functioning of cells. Currently, proteins are labeled for study simply by fusing them to other fluorescent proteins, which allows researchers to use microscopy to track their movements through a cell. This approach has several drawbacks, however, not least being that the fluorescent proteins are often large enough to affect the function of the protein of interest.
Dr. Alex Deiters, associate professor of chemistry, along with colleague Dr. Jason Chin of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, U.K., have developed a way to attach a fluorophore – a fluorescent molecule about 20 times smaller than the fluorescent proteins currently in use – to a protein that is expressed in a mammalian cell.
Deiters and Chin developed a special 21st amino acid that they added to cells that were specially engineered to incorporate this amino acid into the protein they wanted to study (there are normally only 20 amino acids). This 21st amino acid has a "chemical handle" that only reacts with a specifically designed fluorophore, but not any cellular components. According to Deiters, "The reaction between the modified protein and the fluorophore is extremely fast, high yielding, and generates a stable link between both reaction partners. This novel methodology enables future cell biological studies that were previously not possible."
The research appears in the Feb. 5 issue of Nature Chemistry.
"We found that our approach gave us a higher yield of labeled proteins and that the binding reaction was 50 times faster than with current methods," Deiters says. "Additionally, it took less reagent to complete the reaction, so overall we have a faster, more efficient method for protein labeling, and less chance of interfering with the normal function of the proteins and cells being studied."
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The Department of Chemistry is part of NC State's College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
Note to editors: Abstract of the paper follows
"Genetically encoded norbornene directs site-specific cellular protein labelling via a rapid bioorthogonal reaction"
Authors: Alexander Deiters, Jessica Torres-Kolbus, Chungjung Chou, North Carolina State University; Jason W. Chin, Kathrin Lang, Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge, UK
Published: Feb. 5, 2012 in Nature Chemistry
Abstract: The site-specific incorporation of bioorthogonal groups via the expansion of genetic code provides a powerful general strategy for site-specifically labelling proteins with any probe. However, the slow reactivity of the bioorthogonal functional groups that can be encoded genetically limits the utility of this strategy. We demonstrate the genetic encoding of a norbornene amino acid using the pyrrolysyl transfer RNA synthetase/tRNACUA pair in Escherichia coli and mammalian cells. We developed a series of tetrazine-based probes that exhibit 'turn-on' fluorescence on their rapid reaction with norbornenes. We demonstrate that the labelling of an encoded norbornene is specific with respect to the entire soluble E. coli proteome and thousands of times faster than established encodable bioorthogonal reactions. We show explicitly the advantages of this approach over state-of-the-art bioorthogonal reactions for protein labelling in vitro and on mammalian cells, and so demonstrate the first rapid bioorthogonal site-specific labelling of a protein on the mammalian cell surface.
Tracey Peake | EurekAlert!
Link between Gut Flora and Multiple Sclerosis Discovered
15.10.2018 | Universität Zürich
Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"
15.10.2018 | Universität Augsburg
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
New measurement method allows researchers to precisely follow the movement of individual molecules over long periods of time
The function of proteins – the molecular tools of the cell – is governed by the interplay of their structure and dynamics. Advances in electron microscopy have...
02.10.2018 | Event News
01.10.2018 | Event News
21.09.2018 | Event News
15.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.10.2018 | Life Sciences
15.10.2018 | Life Sciences