Published: April 19, 2019
Abstract image for Wall and Hough Biophys J 2018

K. P. Wall, L. E. Hough (2018). Biophysical Journal 115(9), 1690-1695. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2018.08.049

In-cell NMR spectroscopy is a powerful tool to determine the properties of proteins and nucleic acids within living cells. In-cell NMR can give site-specific measurements of interactions, modifications, and dynamics as well as their modulation by the cellular environment. In-cell NMR requires selective incorporation of heavy isotopes into a protein of interest, either through the introduction of exogenously produced protein to a cell’s interior or the selective overexpression of a protein. We developed conditions to allow the use of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which was chosen because of its genetic tractability, as a eukaryotic expression system for in-cell NMR. We demonstrate this technique using a fragment of S. cerevisiae Nsp1, an FG Nup. FG Nups are intrinsically disordered proteins containing phenylalanine (F)-glycine (G) repeats and form the selective barrier within the nuclear pore complex. Yeast FG Nups have previously been shown to be maintained in a highly dynamic state within living bacteria as measured by in-cell NMR. Interactions thought to stabilize this dynamic state are also present in the protein’s native organism, although site specificity of interaction is different between the two cytosols.