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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2025
  2. Abstract

    mCherry is one of the most successfully applied monomeric red fluorescent proteins (RFPs) for in vivo and in vitro imaging. However, questions pertaining to the photostability of the RFPs remain and rational further engineering of their photostability requires information about the fluorescence quenching mechanism in solution. To this end, NMR spectroscopic investigations might be helpful, and we present the near-complete backbone NMR chemical shift assignment to aid in this pursuit.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. The presence of dark states causes fluorescence intermittency of single molecules due to transitions between “on” and “off” states. Genetically encodable markers such as fluorescent proteins (FPs) exhibit dark states that make several super-resolved single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) methods possible. However, studies quantifying the timescales and nature of dark state behavior for commonly used FPs under conditions typical of widefield and total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy remain scarce and pre-date many new SMLM techniques. FusionRed is a relatively bright red FP exhibiting fluorescence intermittency and has thus been identified as a potential candidate for SMLM. We herein characterize the rates for dark-state conversion and the subsequent ground-state recovery of FusionRed and its 2.5-fold brighter descendent FusionRed L175M M42Q (FusionRed-MQ) at low irradiances (1–10 W cm −2 ), which were previously unexplored experimental conditions. We characterized the kinetics of dark state transitions in these two FPs by using single molecule blinking and ensemble photobleaching experiments bridged with a dark state kinetic model. We find that at low irradiances, the recovery process to the ground state is minimally light-driven and FusionRed-MQ has a 1.3-fold longer ground state recovery time indicating a conformationally restricted dark-state chromophore in comparison to FusionRed. Our studies indicate that the brighter FusionRed-MQ variant exhibits higher dark state conversion rates with longer ground state recovery lifetimes, thus it is potentially a better candidate for SMLM applications than its progenitor FusionRed. 
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  4. We examine changes in the picosecond structural dynamics with irreversible photobleaching of red fluorescent proteins (RFP) mCherry, mOrange2 and TagRFP-T. Measurements of the protein dynamical transition using terahertz time-domain spectroscopy show in all cases an increase in the turn-on temperature in the bleached state. The result is surprising given that there is little change in the protein surface, and thus, the solvent dynamics held responsible for the transition should not change. A spectral analysis of the measurements guided by quasiharmonic calculations of the protein absorbance reveals that indeed the solvent dynamical turn-on temperature is independent of the thermal stability/photostate however the protein dynamical turn-on temperature shifts to higher temperatures. This is the first demonstration of switching the protein dynamical turn-on temperature with protein functional state. The observed shift in protein dynamical turn-on temperature relative to the solvent indicates an increase in the required mobile waters necessary for the protein picosecond motions, that is, these motions are more collective. Melting-point measurements reveal that the photobleached state is more thermally stable, and structural analysis of related RFP’s shows that there is an increase in internal water channels as well as a more uniform atomic root mean squared displacement. These observations are consistent with previous suggestions that water channels form with extended light excitation providing O2 access to the chromophore and subsequent fluorescence loss. We report that these same channels increase internal coupling enhancing thermal stability and collectivity of the picosecond protein motions. The terahertz spectroscopic characterization of the protein and solvent dynamical onsets can be applied generally to measure changes in collectivity of protein motions. 
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