Single cell FRET analysis for the identification of optimal FRET-Pairs in bacillus subtilis using a prototype MEM-FLIM system

Ruud G.J. Detert Oude Weme, Ákos T. Kovács, Sander J.G. De Jong, Jan Willem Veening, Jeroen Siebring, Oscar P. Kuipers

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Protein-protein interactions can be studied in vitro, e.g. with bacterial or yeast two-hybrid systems or surface plasmon resonance. In contrast to in vitro techniques, in vivo studies of protein-protein interactions allow examination of spatial and temporal behavior of such interactions in their native environment. One approach to study protein-protein interactions in vivo is via Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET). Here, FRET efficiency of selected FRET-pairs was studied at the single cell level using sensitized emission and Frequency Domain-Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FD-FLIM). For FRET-FLIM, a prototype Modulated Electron-Multiplied FLIM system was used, which is, to the best of our knowledge, the first account of Frequency Domain FLIM to analyze FRET in single bacterial cells. To perform FRET-FLIM, we first determined and benchmarked the best fluorescent protein-pair for FRET in Bacillus subtilis using a novel BglBrick-compatible integration vector. We show that GFP-tagRFP is an excellent donor-acceptor pair for B. subtilis in vivo FRET studies. As a proof of concept, selected donor and acceptor fluorescent proteins were fused using a linker that contained a tobacco etch virus (TEV)-protease recognition sequence. Induction of TEV-protease results in loss of FRET efficiency and increase in fluorescence lifetime. The loss of FRET efficiency after TEV induction can be followed in time in single cells via time-lapse microscopy. This work will facilitate future studies of in vivo dynamics of protein complexes in single B. subtilis cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0123239
Issue number4
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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