We previously designed a calcium sensor CatchER (a GFP-based Calcium sensor for detecting high concentrations in the high calcium concentration environment such as ER) with a capability for monitoring calcium ion responses in various types of cells. Calcium binding to CatchER induces the ratiometric changes in the absorption spectra, as well as an increase in fluorescence emission at 510 nm upon excitation at both 395 and 488 nm. Here, we have applied the combination of the steady-state and time-resolved optical methods and Hydrogen/Deuterium isotope exchange to understand the origin of such calcium-induced optical property changes of CatchER. We first demonstrated that calcium binding results in a 44% mean fluorescence lifetime increase of the indirectly excited anionic chromophore. Thus, CatchER is the first protein-based calcium indicator with the single fluorescent moiety to show the direct correlation between the lifetime and calcium binding. Calcium exhibits a strong inhibition on the excited-state proton transfer nonadiabatic geminate recombination in protic (vs deuteric) medium. Analysis of CatchER crystal structures and the MD simulations reveal the proton transfer mechanism in which the disrupted proton migration path in CatchER is rescued by calcium binding. Our finding provides important insights for a strategy to design calcium sensors and suggests that CatchER could be a useful probe for FLIM imaging of calcium in situ.
EZhuo, Y., Solntsev, K. M., Reddish, F., Tang, S., & Yang, J. J. (2015). Effect of Ca2+ on the Steady-State and Time-Resolved Emission Properties of the Genetically Encoded Fluorescent Sensor CatchER. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 119(6), 2103-2111. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jp501707n