Orevi, T., Lerner, E., Rahamim, G., Amir, D. & Haas, E. Ensemble and single-molecule detected time-resolved FRET methods in studies of protein conformations and dynamics. Methods Mol. Biol. 1076, 113–169 (2014). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Most proteins are nanomachines that are selected to execute specific functions and therefore should have some degree of flexibility. The driving force that excites specific motions of domains and smaller chain elements is the thermal fluctuations of the solvent bath which are channeled to selected modes of motions by the structural constraints. Consequently characterization of the ensembles of conformers of proteins and their dynamics should be expressed in statistical terms, i.e., determination of probability distributions of the various conformers. This can be achieved by measurements of time-resolved dynamic non-radiative excitation energy transfer (trFRET) within ensembles of site specifically labeled protein molecules. Distributions of intramolecular segmental end-to-end distances and their fast fluctuations can be determined, and fast and slow conformational transitions within selected sections of the molecule can be monitored and analyzed. Both ensemble and single-molecule detection methods can be applied for data collection. In combination with synchronization methods, time-resolved FRET was also used for studies of fast conformational transitions, in particular the folding/unfolding transitions.
Lerner, E., Orevi, T., Ben Ishay, E., Amir, D. & Haas, E. Kinetics of fast changing intramolecular distance distributions obtained by combined analysis of FRET efficiency kinetics and time-resolved FRET equilibrium measurements. Biophys. J. 106, 667–676 (2014). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Detailed studies of the mechanisms of macromolecular conformational transitions such as protein folding are enhanced by analysis of changes of distributions for intramolecular distances during the transitions. Time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) measurements yield such data, but the more readily available kinetics of mean FRET efficiency changes cannot be analyzed in terms of changes in distances because of the sixth-power dependence on the mean distance. To enhance the information obtained from mean FRETefficiency kinetics, we combined the analyses of FRET efficiency kinetics and equilibrium trFRET experiments. The joint analysis enabled determination of transient distance distributions along the folding reaction both in cases where a two-state transition is valid and in some cases consisting of a three-state scenario. The procedure and its limits were tested by simulations. Experimental data obtained from stopped-flow measurements of the refolding of Escherichia coli adenylate kinase were analyzed. The distance distributions between three double-labeled mutants, in the collapsed transient state, were determined and compared to those obtained experimentally using the double-kineticstechnique. The proposed method effectively provides information on distance distributions of kinetically accessed intermediates of fastconformational transitions induced by common relaxation methods.
Lerner, E., et al. Preparation of homogeneous samples of double-labelled protein suitable for single-molecule FRET measurements. Anal Bioanal Chem 405, 5983–5991 (2013). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Preparation of pure and homogenous site specifically single- and double-labelled biopolymers suitable for spectroscopic determination of structural characteristics is a major current challenge in biopolymers chemistry. In particular, proper analysis of single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer measurements is based on the spectral characteristics of the probes. Heterogeneity of any of the probes may introduce errors in the analysis, and hence, care must be taken to avoid preparation of inhomogeneous labelled biopolymer samples. When we prepared samples of Escherichia coli adenylate kinase (AK) mutants labelled with either Atto 488 or Atto 647N, the products were spectrally inhomogeneous and the composition of the mixture changed gradually over time. We show here that the inhomogeneity was not a result of variation in the dye interaction with neighbouring side chains. Rather, the slow drift of the spectral characteristics of the probes was a characteristic of an irreversible chemical transformation probably due to the hydrolysis of the succinimide ring of the attached dye into its succinamic acid form. Overnight incubation of the labelled protein in mild basic solution accelerated the interconversion, yielding homogeneous labelled samples. Using this procedure, we obtained stable homogenous AK mutant labelled at residues 142 and 188.
Huang, F., et al. Time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer study shows a compact denatured state of the B domain of protein A. Biochemistry 48, 3468–3476 (2009). Publisher's VersionAbstract
The B domain of protein A (BDPA), a three-helix bundle of 60 residues, folds via a nucleation-condensation mechanism in apparent two-state kinetics. We have applied a time-resolved FRET (tr-FRET) approach to characterize the ensembles of BDPA during chemical denaturation. The distribution of the distance between residues 22 and 55, which are close and separated by helices 2 and 3 in the native state, was determined by global analysis of the time-resolved fluorescence decay curves of the probes. Narrow distributions were observed when the protein was equilibrated in guanidinium chloride (GdmCl) concentrations below 1.5 M (native state, N) and above the transition zone at 2.6-3.0 M GdmCl (denatured state, D). Considerably broader distributions were found around the transition point (2.0 M GdmCl) or much higher GdmCl concentrations (>3.0 M). Comparative global analysis of the tr-FRET data showed a compact denatured state of the protein, characterized by narrow distribution and relatively small mean distance between residues 22 and 55 that was observed at mild denaturing conditions (<3 M GdmCl). This experiment supports the two-state folding mechanism of BDPA and indicates the existence of effective nonlocal, probably hydrophobic, intramolecular interactions that stabilize a pretty uniform ensemble of compact denatured molecules at intermediate denaturing conditions.