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Modular Thermal Control of Protein Dimerization

By Dan I. Piraner, Yan Wu, Mikhail G. Shapiro

Posted 13 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/694448 (published DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.9b00275)

Protein-protein interactions and protein localization are essential mechanisms of cellular signal transduction. The ability to externally control such interactions using chemical and optogenetic methods has facilitated biological research and provided components for the engineering of cell-based therapies and materials. However, chemical and optical methods are limited in their ability to provide spatiotemporal specificity in light-scattering tissues. To overcome these limitations, we present "thermomers," modular protein dimerization domains controlled with temperature - a form of energy that can be delivered to cells both globally and locally in a wide variety of in vitro and in vivo contexts. Thermomers are based on a sharply thermolabile coiled-coil protein, which we engineered to heterodimerize at a tunable transition temperature within the biocompatible range of 37 to 42 C. When fused to other proteins, thermomers can reversibly control their association, as demonstrated via membrane localization in mammalian cells. This technology enables remote control of intracellular protein-protein interactions with a form of energy that can be delivered with spatiotemporal precision in a wide range of biological, therapeutic and living material scenarios.

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