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Directed covalent immobilization of fluorescently labeled cytokines

: Recker, T.; Haamann, D.; Schmitt, A.; Küster, A.; Klee, D.; Barth, S.; Müller-Newen, G.


Bioconjugate Chemistry 22 (2011), Nr.6, S.1210-1220
ISSN: 1043-1802
Fraunhofer IME ()

Cytokines are important mediators coordinating inflammation and wound healing in response to tissue damage and infection. Therefore, immobilization of cytokines on the surface of biomaterials is a promising approach to improve biocompatibility. Soluble cytokines signal through receptors on the cell surface leading to cell differentiation, proliferation, or other effector functions. Random immobilization of cytokines on surfaces will result in a large fraction of inactive protein due to impaired cytokine-receptor interaction. We developed a strategy that combined (i) directed covalent coupling of cytokines, (ii) quantification of coupling efficiency through fluorescence detection, and (iii) a reliable protease cleavage assay to control orientation of coupling. For this purpose, fusion proteins of the SNAP-tag followed by an enterokinase recognition site, yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), and the cytokine of interest being either interleukin-6 (IL-6) or oncostatin M (OSM) were generated. The SNAP-tag is a derivative of O6-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase that couples itself covalently to benzylguanine. Bioactivities of the SNAP-YFP-cytokines were shown to be comparable with the nontagged cytokines. Efficient coupling of SNAP-YFP-cytokines to benzylguanine-modified beads was demonstrated by flow cytometry. The fact that enterokinase treatment released most of the fluorescence from the beads is indicative for directed coupling and only marginal adsorptive binding. Cellular responses to SNAP-YFP-cytokine beads were analyzed in cellular lysates and by confocal microscopy indicating that the directionally immobilized cytokines are fully signaling competent with respect to the activation of ERK and STAT3. The strategy presented here is generally applicable for the directed covalent immobilization of fluorescently labeled proteins including the convenient and reliable control of coupling efficiency and orientation.