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Hou, Ya-Nan; Ding, Wen-Long; Jiang, Su-Ping; Miao, Dan; Tan, Zi-Zhu; Hu, Ji-Ling; Scheer, Hugo and Zhao, Kai-Hong (2019): Bright near-infrared fluorescence bio-labeling with a biliprotein triad. In: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Molecular Cell Research, Vol. 1866, No. 2: pp. 277-284

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Biliproteins have extended the spectral range of fluorescent proteins into the near-infrared region (NIR, 700-770 nm) of maximal transmission of most tissues and are also favorable for multiplex labeling. Their application, however, presents considerable challenges to increase their stability under physiological conditions and, in particular, to increase their brightness while maintaining the emission in near-infrared regions: their fluorescence yield generally decreases with increasing wavelengths, and their effective brightness depends strongly on the environmental conditions. We report a fluorescent biliprotein triad, termed BDFP1.1:3.1:1.1, that combines a large red-shift (722 nm) with high brightness in mammalian cells and high stability under changing environmental conditions. It is fused from derivatives of the phycobilisome core subunits, ApcE2 and ApcF2. These two subunits are induced by far-red light (FR, 650-700 nm) in FR acclimated cyanobacteria. Two BDFP1.1 domains engineered from ApcF2 covalently bind biliverdin that is accessible in most cells. The soluble BDFP3 domain, engineered from ApcE2, binds phytochromobilin non-covalently, generating BDFP3.1. This phytochromobilin chromophore was added externally;it is readily generated by an improved synthesis in E. coli and subsequent extraction. Excitation energy absorbed in the FR by covalently bound biliverdins in the two BDFP1.1 domains is transferred via fluorescence resonance energy transfer to the non-covalently bound phytochromobilin in the BDFP3.1 domain fluorescing in the NIR around 720 nm. Labeling of a variety of proteins by fusion to the biliprotein triad is demonstrated in prokaryotic and mammalian cells, including human cell lines.

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