Cyclic AMP receptor protein-aequorin molecular switch for cyclic AMP

Daniel Scott, Krystal Teasley Hamorsky, C. Mark Ensor, Kimberly W. Anderson, Sylvia Daunert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Molecular switches are designer molecules that combine the functionality of two individual proteins into one, capable of manifesting an "on/off" signal in response to a stimulus. These switches have unique properties and functionalities and thus, can be employed as nanosensors in a variety of applications. To that end, we have developed a bioluminescent molecular switch for cyclic AMP. Bioluminescence offers many advantages over fluorescence and other detection methods including the fact that there is essentially zero background signal in physiological fluids, allowing for more sensitive detection and monitoring. The switch was created by combining the properties of the cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP), a transcriptional regulatory protein from E. Coli that binds selectively to cAMP with those of aequorin, a bioluminescent photoprotein native of the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. Genetic manipulation to split the genetic coding sequence of aequorin in two and genetically attach the fragments to the N and C termini of CRP resulted in a hybrid protein molecular switch. The conformational change experienced by CRP upon the binding of cyclic AMP is suspected to result in the observed loss of the bioluminescent signal from aequorin. The "on/off" bioluminescence can be modulated by cyclic AMP over a range of several orders of magnitude in a linear fashion in addition to the capacity to detect changes in cellular cyclic AMP of intact cells exposed to different external stimuli without the need to lyse the cells. We envision that the molecular switch could find applications in vitro as well as In Vivo cyclic AMP detection and/or imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-481
Number of pages7
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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