Rationally designed fluorescently labeled sulfate-binding protein mutants: Evaluation in the development of a sensing system for sulfate

Suresh Shrestha, Lyndon L.E. Salins, C. Mark Ensor, Sylvia Daunert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Periplasmic binding proteins from E. coli undergo large conformational changes upon binding their respective ligands. By attaching a fluorescent probe at rationally selected unique sites on the protein, these conformational changes in the protein can be monitored by measuring the changes in fluorescence intensity of the probe which allow the development of reagentless sensing systems for their corresponding ligands. In this work, we evaluated several sites on bacterial periplasmic sulfate-binding protein (SBP) for attachment of a fluorescent probe and rationally designed a reagentless sensing system for sulfate. Eight different mutants of SBP were prepared by employing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to introduce a unique cysteine residue at a specific location on the protein. The sites Gly55, Ser90, Ser129, Ala140, Leu145, Ser171, Va1181, and Gly186 were chosen for mutagenesis by studying the three-dimensional x-ray crystal structure of SBP. An environment-sensitive fluorescent probe (MDCC) was then attached site-specifically to the protein through the sulfhydryl group of the unique cysteine residue introduced. Each fluorescent probe-conjugated SBP mutant was characterized in terms of its fluorescence properties and Ser171 was determined to be the best site for the attachment of the fluorescent probe that would allow for the development of a reagentless sensing system for sulfate. Three different environment-sensitive fluorescent probes (1,5-IAEDANS, MDCC, and acylodan) were studied with the SBP171 mutant protein. A calibration curve for sulfate was constructed using the labeled protein and relating the change in the fluorescence intensity with the amount of sulfate present in the sample. The detection limit for sulfate was found to be in the submicromolar range using this system. The selectivity of the sensing system was demonstrated by evaluating its response to other anions. A fast and selective sensing system with detection limits for sulfate in the submicromolar range was developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 5 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Conformational change
  • Escherichia coli
  • Fluorescence
  • Sensing system
  • Sulfate-binding protein (SBP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology


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