Accepted: Using single-molecule FRET to probe the nucleotide-dependent conformational landscape of Pol β-DNA complexes

C. Fijen, M. Mahmoud, M. Kronenberg, R. Kaup, Mattia Fontana, J. Towle-Weicksel, J. Sweasy, and J. Hohlbein, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2020, [link], bioRxiv preprint [link]

Eukaryotic DNA polymerase β (Pol β) plays an important role in cellular DNA repair, as it fills short gaps in dsDNA that result from removal of damaged bases. Since defects in DNA repair may lead to cancer and genetic instabilities, Pol β has been extensively studied, especially its mechanisms for substrate binding and a fidelity-related conformational change referred to as “fingers closing.” Here, we applied single-molecule FRET (smFRET) to measure distance changes associated with DNA binding and pre-chemistry fingers movement of human Pol β. First, using a doubly labeled DNA construct, we show that Pol β bends the gapped DNA substrate less than indicated by previously reported crystal structures. Second, using acceptor-labeled Pol β and donor-labeled DNA, we visualized dynamic fingers closing in single Pol β-DNA complexes upon addition of complementary nucleotides and derived rates of conformational changes. We further found that, while incorrect nucleotides are quickly rejected, they nonetheless stabilize the polymerase–DNA complex, suggesting that Pol β, when bound to a lesion, has a strong commitment to nucleotide incorporation and, thus, repair. In summary, the observation and quantification of fingers movement in human Pol β reported here provide new insights into the delicate mechanisms of pre-chemistry nucleotide selection.



Accepted: Spatiotemporal heterogeneity of κ‐carrageenan gels investigated via single-particle-tracking fluorescence microscopy

K.J.A. Martens, J. van Duynhoven, and J. Hohlbein, Langmuir, 2020, [link]

Hydrogels made of the polysaccharide κ-carrageenan are widely used in the food and personal care industry as thickeners or gelling agents. These hydrogels feature dense regions embedded in a coarser bulk network, but the characteristic size and behavior of these regions has remained elusive. Here, we use single-particle-tracking fluorescence microscopy (sptFM) to quantitatively describe κ-carrageenan gels. Infusing fluorescent probes into fully gelated κ-carrageenan hydrogels resulted in two distinct diffusional behaviors. Obstructed self-diffusion of the probes revealed that the coarse network consists of κ-carrageenan strands with a typical diameter of 3.2 ± 0.3 nm leading to a nanoprobe diffusion coefficient of ~1-5∙10^-12 m2/s. In the dense network regions, we found a fraction with a largely decreased diffusion coefficient of ~1∙10^-13 m2/s. We also observed dynamic exchange between these states. The computation of spatial mobility maps from diffusional data indicated that the dense network regions have a characteristic diameter of ~1 µm and are itself mobile on the seconds-to-minutes timescale. sptFM provides an unprecedented view on spatiotemporal heterogeneity of hydrogel networks, which we believe bears general relevance for understanding transport and release of both low- and high molecular weight solutes.


Published: Precision and accuracy of single-molecule FRET measurements—a multi-laboratory benchmark study

B. Hellenkamp, S. Schmid, O. Doroshenko, O. Opanasyuk, R. Kühnemuth, S. Rezaei Adariani, B. Ambrose, M. Aznauryan, A. Barth, V. Birkedal, M.E. Bowen, H. Chen, T. Cordes, T. Eilert, C. Fijen, C. Gebhardt, M. Götz, G. Gouridis, E. Gratton, T. Ha, P. Hao, C.A. Hanke, A. Hartmann, J. Hendrix, L.L. Hildebrandt, V. Hirschfeld, J. Hohlbein, B.g Hua, C.G. Hübner, E. Kallis, A.N. Kapanidis, J.Y. Kim, G. Krainer, D.C. Lamb, N.K. Lee, E.A. Lemke, B. Levesque, M. Levitus, J.J. McCann, N. Naredi-Rainer, D. Nettels, T. Ngo, R. Qiu, N.C. Robb, C. Röcker, H. Sanabria, M. Schlierf, T. Schröder, B. Schuler, H. Seidel, L. Streit, J. Thurn, P. Tinnefeld, S. Tyagi, N. Vandenberk, A. Manuel Vera, K.R. Weninger, B. Wünsch, I.S. Yanez-Orozco, J. Michaelis, C.A.M. Seidel, T.D. Craggs, T. Hugel, Nature Methods, 15, 669, 2018, [link], preprint on arXiv: [link]

Single-molecule Förster resonance energytransfer (smFRET) is increasingly being used to determine distances, structures, and dynamics of biomolecules in vitro and in vivo. However, generalized protocols and FRET standards to ensure the reproducibility and accuracy of measurements of FRET efficiencies are currently lacking. Here we report the results of a comparative blind study in which 20 labs determined the FRET efficiencies (E) of several dye-labeled DNA duplexes. Using a unified, straightforward method, we obtained FRET efficiencies with s.d. between ± 0.02 and ± 0.05. We suggest experimental and computational procedures for converting FRET efficiencies into accurate distances, and discuss potential uncertainties in the experiment and the modeling. Our quantitative assessment of the reproducibility of intensity-based smFRET measurements and a unified correction procedure represents an important step toward the validation of distance networks, with the ultimate aim of achieving reliable structural models of biomolecular systems by smFRET-based hybrid methods.

Publication: Probing the conformational landscape of DNA polymerases using diffusion-based single-molecule FRET

J. Hohlbein and A.N. Kapanidis, Methods in Enzymology: Single-molecule Enzymology Part A & B, 581, 353-378, 2016, [link]

Monitoring conformationalchanges in DNA polymerases using single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET) has provided new tools for studying fidelity-related mechanisms that promote the rejection of incorrect nucleotides before DNA synthesis. In addition to the previously known open and the closed conformations of DNA polymerases, our smFRET assays utilising doubly labelled variants of E. coli DNA polymerase I were pivotal in identifying and characterising a partially-closed conformation as a primary checkpoint for nucleotide selection. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of the methods we used for the conformational analysis of wild-type DNA polymerase and some of its low-fidelity derivatives; these methods include strategies for protein labelling and our procedures for solution-based single-molecule fluorescence data acquisition and data analysis. We also discuss alternative single-molecule fluorescence strategies for analysing the conformations of DNA polymerases in vitro and in vivo.


Publication: Single molecule 3D orientation in Time and Space: A 6D dynamic study on fluorescent labeled lipid membranes.

R. Börner, N. Ehrlich, J. Hohlbein, C.G. Hübner, Journal of Fluorescence, 26, 963-975, 2016 [link]

Interactions between single molecules profoundly depend on their mutual three-dimensional orientation to each other. Recently, we demonstrated a technique that allows the orientation determination of single dipole emitters using a polarization-resolved distribution of fluorescence into several detection channels. As tCapture2he method is based on the detection of single photons, it additionally allows for performing fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) as well as dynamical anisotropy measurements thereby providing access to fast orientational dynamics down to the nanosecond time scale. The 3D orientation is particularly interesting in non-isotropic environments such as lipid membranes, which are of great importance in biology. We used giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) labeled with fluorescent dyes down to a single molecule concentration as a model system for both, assessing the robustness of the orientation determination at different timescales and quantifying the associated errors. The vesicles provide a well-defined spherical surface, thus, the in cooperation of lipid dyes (DiO) represents a a wide range of dipole orientations. To complement our experimental data, we performed Monte Carlo simulations of the rotational dynamics of dipoles incorporated into lipid membranes. Our study offers a comprehensive view on the dye orientation behavior in a lipid membrane with high spatiotemporal resolution representing a six-dimensional fluorescence detection approach.