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A genetically-encoded toolkit of functionalized nanobodies against fluorescent proteins for visualizing and manipulating intracellular signalling

By David L. Prole, Colin W Taylor

Posted 08 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/544700

Background: Intrabodies enable targeting of proteins in live cells, but it remains a huge task to generate specific intrabodies against the thousands of proteins in a proteome. We leverage the widespread availability of fluorescently labelled proteins to visualize and manipulate intracellular signalling pathways in live cells by using nanobodies targeting fluorescent protein tags. Results: We generated a toolkit of plasmids encoding nanobodies against red and green fluorescent proteins (RFP and GFP variants), fused to functional modules. These include fluorescent sensors for visualization of Ca2+, H+ and ATP/ADP dynamics; oligomerizing or heterodimerizing modules that allow recruitment or sequestration of proteins and identification of membrane contact sites between organelles; SNAP tags that allow labelling with fluorescent dyes and targeted chromophore-assisted light inactivation; and nanobodies targeted to lumenal sub-compartments of the secretory pathway. We also developed two methods for crosslinking tagged proteins: a dimeric nanobody, and RFP-targeting and GFP-targeting nanobodies fused to complementary hetero-dimerizing domains. We show various applications of the toolkit and demonstrate, for example, that IP3 receptors deliver Ca2+ to the outer membrane of only a subset of mitochondria, and that only one or two sites on a mitochondrion form membrane contacts with the plasma membrane. Conclusions: This toolkit greatly expands the utility of intrabodies for studying cell signalling in live cells.

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