Nanobodies are single-domain antibodies of camelid origin. We generated nanobodies against the vertebrate nuclear pore complex (NPC) and used them in STORM imaging to locate individual NPC proteins with <2nm epitope-label displacement. For this, we introduced cysteines at specific positions in the nanobody sequence and labeled the resulting proteins with fluorophore-maleimides. As nanobodies are normally stabilized by disulfide-bonded cysteines, this appears counterintuitive. Yet, our analysis showed that this caused no folding problems. Compared to traditional NHS ester-labeling of lysines, the cysteine-maleimide strategy resulted in far less background in fluorescence imaging, it better preserved epitope recognition and it is site-specific. We also devised a rapid epitope-mapping strategy, which relies on crosslinking mass spectrometry and the introduced ectopic cysteines. Finally, we used different anti-nucleoporin nanobodies to purify the major NPC building blocks - each in a single step, with native elution and, as demonstrated, in excellent quality for structural analysis by electron microscopy. The presented strategies are applicable to any nanobody and nanobody-target.
- Karsten Weis, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
© 2015, Pleiner et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Activation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is an allosteric process. It involves conformational coupling between the orthosteric ligand binding site and the G protein binding site. Factors that bind at non-cognate ligand binding sites to alter the allosteric activation process are classified as allosteric modulators and represent a promising class of therapeutics with distinct modes of binding and action. For many receptors, how modulation of signaling is represented at the structural level is unclear. Here, we developed FRET sensors to quantify receptor modulation at each of the three structural domains of metabotropic glutamate receptor 2 (mGluR2). We identified the conformational fingerprint for several allosteric modulators in live cells. This approach enabled us to derive a receptor-centric representation of allosteric modulation and to correlate structural modulation to the standard signaling modulation metrics. Single-molecule FRET analysis revealed that a NAM increases the occupancy of one of the intermediate states while a PAM increases the occupancy of the active state. Moreover, we found that the effect of allosteric modulators on the receptor dynamics is complex and depend on the orthosteric ligand. Collectively, our findings provide a structural mechanism of allosteric modulation in mGluR2 and suggest possible strategies for design of future modulators.