Rapid construction of metabolite biosensors using domain-insertion profiling

Nat Commun. 2016 Jul 29;7:12266. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12266.


Single-fluorescent protein biosensors (SFPBs) are an important class of probes that enable the single-cell quantification of analytes in vivo. Despite advantages over other detection technologies, their use has been limited by the inherent challenges of their construction. Specifically, the rational design of green fluorescent protein (GFP) insertion into a ligand-binding domain, generating the requisite allosteric coupling, remains a rate-limiting step. Here, we describe an unbiased approach, termed domain-insertion profiling with DNA sequencing (DIP-seq), that combines the rapid creation of diverse libraries of potential SFPBs and high-throughput activity assays to identify functional biosensors. As a proof of concept, we construct an SFPB for the important regulatory sugar trehalose. DIP-seq analysis of a trehalose-binding-protein reveals allosteric hotspots for GFP insertion and results in high-dynamic range biosensors that function robustly in vivo. Taken together, DIP-seq simultaneously accelerates metabolite biosensor construction and provides a novel tool for interrogating protein allostery.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Escherichia coli
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins*
  • Maltose-Binding Proteins
  • Molecular Probe Techniques
  • Molecular Probes*
  • Thermococcus
  • Trehalose / analysis


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Maltose-Binding Proteins
  • Molecular Probes
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Trehalose