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Deriving a sub-nanomolar affinity peptide from TAP to enable smFRET analysis of RNA polymerase II complexes

Deriving a sub-nanomolar affinity peptide from TAP to enable smFRET analysis of RNA polymerase II complexes

Methods. 2019 Apr 15;159-160:59-69
doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2019.02.006

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摘要

Our capability to visualize protein complexes such as RNA polymerase II (pol II) by single-molecule imaging techniques has largely been hampered by the absence of a simple bio-orthogonal approach for selective labeling with a fluorescent probe. Here, we modify the existing calmodulin-binding peptide (CBP) in the widely used Tandem Affinity Purification (TAP) tag to endow it with a high affinity for calmodulin (CaM) and use dye-CaM to conduct site-specific labeling of pol II. To demonstrate the single molecule applicability of this approach, we labeled the C-terminus of the Rpb9 subunit of pol II with donor-CaM and a site in TFIIF with an acceptor to generate a FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) pair in the pol II-TFIIF complex. We then used total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRF) with alternating excitation to measure the single molecule FRET (smFRET) efficiency between these two sites in pol II-TFIIF. We found they exhibited a proximity consistent with that observed in the transcription pre-initiation complex by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). We further compared our non-covalent labeling approach with an enzyme-enabled covalent labeling method. The virtually indistinguishable results validate our smFRET approach and show that the observed proximity between the two sites represents a hallmark of the pol II-TFIIF complex. Taken together, we present a simple and versatile bio-orthogonal method derived from TAP to enable selective labeling of a protein complex. This method is suitable for analyzing dynamic relationships among proteins involved in transcription and it can be readily extended to many other biological processes.