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Monitoring ligand-dependent assembly of receptor ternary complexes in live cells by BRETFect.

Cotnoir-White D, El Ezzy M, Boulay PL, Rozendaal M, Bouvier M, Gagnon E, Mader S

Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC H3T 1J4, Canada;

There is currently an unmet need for versatile techniques to monitor the assembly and dynamics of ternary complexes in live cells. Here we describe bioluminescence resonance energy transfer with fluorescence enhancement by combined transfer (BRETFect), a high-throughput technique that enables robust spectrometric detection of ternary protein complexes based on increased energy transfer from a luciferase to a fluorescent acceptor in the presence of a fluorescent intermediate. Its unique donor-intermediate-acceptor relay system is designed so that the acceptor can receive energy either directly from the donor or indirectly via the intermediate in a combined transfer, taking advantage of the entire luciferase emission spectrum. BRETFect was used to study the ligand-dependent cofactor interaction properties of the estrogen receptors ERα and ERβ, which form homo- or heterodimers whose distinctive regulatory properties are difficult to dissect using traditional methods. BRETFect uncovered the relative capacities of hetero- vs. homodimers to recruit receptor-specific cofactors and regulatory proteins, and to interact with common cofactors in the presence of receptor-specific ligands. BRETFect was also used to follow the assembly of ternary complexes between the V2R vasopressin receptor and two different intracellular effectors, illustrating its use for dissection of ternary protein-protein interactions engaged by G protein-coupled receptors. Our results indicate that BRETFect represents a powerful and versatile technique to monitor the dynamics of ternary interactions within multimeric complexes in live cells.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2018;115(11):E2653-E2662.

Pubmed ID: 29487210

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