FRET and LRET Biosensors for Cell-based Imaging and Screening of Rac1 Activation [article]

Ha Pham, Mona Hoseini Soflaee, Andrei V Karginov, Lawrence Miller
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
Rac1 is a key regulator of several cell signaling pathways and dysregulated Rac1 activation has been implicated in cancer. Genetically encoded Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) biosensors with enhanced dynamic range enabled live cell fluorescence imaging of Rac1 activity and a cell lysate-based assay of Rac1 inhibition in 96-well plates. We prepared HEK293T cell lines that stably expressed polypeptides with a general domain sequence (N- to C-terminus) of 1) FRET acceptor; 2) Rac/Cdc42
more » ... ding domain of human p21 protein kinase A (residues 68-150); 3) a linker domain; 4) FRET donor; and 5) full-length Rac1. Activated Rac1 binds to the protein kinase A domain, bringing donors and acceptors close together to increase FRET. We evaluated the effects on FRET signal dynamic range of alpha helical linkers comprised of alternating repeats of roughly four glutamate and four arginine or lysine residues. So-called ER/K linkers had limited effects on conventional FRET biosensors that incorporated the fluorescent protein (FP) pairs mCerulean/YPet, or mTFP1(cp227)/mVenus(cp229). Fluorometric measurements of cells that co-expresssed biosensors with positive (TIAM1) or negative (RhoGDI) Rac1 regulators revealed significant dynamic range enhancement in only one FP construct (mCerulean/YPet with 20 nm ER/K linker) relative to an analogous structure that incorporated an unstructured linker. We transfected this construct into a cell line that stably expressed a rapamycin-inducible c-Src analog (RapR-Src) and observed activation of Rac1 at protruding edges following rapamycin stimulation. In cells that expressed lanthanide-based FRET (LRET biosensors) that incorporated a luminescent terbium complex donor and GFP fluorescent acceptor, time-gated luminescence (TGL) measurements showed substantial gains in dynamic range that increased with linker length (up to 1200%). We robustly detected small molecule Rac1 inhibition following lysis of LRET biosensor-expressing cells grown directly in 96-well plates. The results herein highlight the potential of FRET and LRET biosensors with ER/K linkers for cell-based imaging and screening of protein activities.
doi:10.1101/2021.06.25.449998 fatcat:v3dsvmdog5c6hbykyuzbk2e7r4