The noncovalent equilibrium activation of a fluorogenic malachite green dye and its cognate fluorogen-activating protein (FAP) can produce a sparse labeling distribution of densely tagged genetically encoded proteins, enabling single molecule detection and super-resolution imaging in fixed and living cells. These sparse labeling conditions are achieved by control of the dye concentration in the milieu, and do not require any photoswitching or photoactivation. The labeling is achieved by using physiological buffers and cellular media, in which additives and switching buffers are not required to obtain super-resolution images. We evaluate the super-resolution properties and images obtained from a selected FAP clone fused to actin, and show that the photon counts per object are between those typically reported for fluorescent proteins and switching-dye pairs, resulting in 10-30?nm localization precision per object. This labeling strategy complements existing approaches, and may simplify multicolor labeling of cellular structures.
We report that a symmetric small-molecule ligand mediates the assembly of antibody light chain variable domains (VLs) into a correspondent symmetric ternary complex with novel interfaces. The L5* fluorogen activating protein is a VL domain that binds malachite green (MG) dye to activate intense fluorescence. Crystallography of liganded L5* reveals a 2:1 protein:ligand complex with inclusive C2 symmetry, where MG is almost entirely encapsulated between an antiparallel arrangement of the two VL domains. Unliganded L5* VL domains crystallize as a similar antiparallel VL/VL homodimer. The complementarity-determining regions are spatially oriented to form novel VL/VL and VL/ligand interfaces that tightly constrain a propeller conformer of MG. Binding equilibrium analysis suggests highly cooperative assembly to form a very stable VL/MG/VL complex, such that MG behaves as a strong chemical inducer of dimerization. Fusion of two VL domains into a single protein tightens MG binding over 1000-fold to low picomolar affinity without altering the large binding enthalpy, suggesting that bonding interactions with ligand and restriction of domain movements make independent contributions to binding. Fluorescence activation of a symmetrical fluorogen provides a selection mechanism for the isolation and directed evolution of ternary complexes where unnatural symmetric binding interfaces are favored over canonical antibody interfaces. As exemplified by L5*, these self-reporting complexes may be useful as modulators of protein association or as high-affinity protein tags and capture reagents.
We demonstrate the effectiveness of a genetically encoded Malachite Green (MG) binding fluorogen activating protein (FAP) for live cell stimulated emission depletion nanoscopy (STED). Both extracellular and intracellular FAPs were tested in living cells using fluorogens with either membrane expressed FAP or as an intracellular FAP-actin fusion. Structures with FWHM of 110-122nm were observed. Depletion data however suggests a resolution of 70nm with the given instrument.
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