Coupling a Live Cell Directed Evolution Assay with Coevolutionary Landscapes to Engineer an Improved Fluorescent Rhodopsin Chloride Sensor
- Hsichuan ChiHsichuan ChiDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United StatesMore by Hsichuan Chi
- Qin ZhouQin ZhouDepartment of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United StatesMore by Qin Zhou
- Jasmine N. TutolJasmine N. TutolDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United StatesMore by Jasmine N. Tutol
- Shelby M. PhelpsShelby M. PhelpsDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United StatesMore by Shelby M. Phelps
- Jessica LeeJessica LeeDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United StatesMore by Jessica Lee
- Paarth KapadiaPaarth KapadiaDepartment of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080, United StatesMore by Paarth Kapadia
- Faruck Morcos*
- , and
- Sheel C. Dodani*
Our understanding of chloride in biology has been accelerated through the application of fluorescent protein-based sensors in living cells. These sensors can be generated and diversified to have a range of properties using laboratory-guided evolution. Recently, we established that the fluorescent proton-pumping rhodopsin wtGR from Gloeobacter violaceus can be converted into a fluorescent sensor for chloride. To unlock this non-natural function, a single point mutation at the Schiff counterion position (D121V) was introduced into wtGR fused to cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) resulting in GR1-CFP. Here, we have integrated coevolutionary analysis with directed evolution to understand how the rhodopsin sequence space can be explored and engineered to improve this starting point. We first show how evolutionary couplings are predictive of functional sites in the rhodopsin family and how a fitness metric based on a sequence can be used to quantify the known proton-pumping activities of GR-CFP variants. Then, we couple this ability to predict potential functional outcomes with a screening and selection assay in live Escherichia coli to reduce the mutational search space of five residues along the proton-pumping pathway in GR1-CFP. This iterative selection process results in GR2-CFP with four additional mutations: E132K, A84K, T125C, and V245I. Finally, bulk and single fluorescence measurements in live E. coli reveal that GR2-CFP is a reversible, ratiometric fluorescent sensor for extracellular chloride with an improved dynamic range. We anticipate that our framework will be applicable to other systems, providing a more efficient methodology to engineer fluorescent protein-based sensors with desired properties.
This article is cited by 2 publications.
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