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Chemical Neurobiology

Volume 995 of the series Methods in Molecular Biology pp 193-205

Date:

Directed Evolution of Protein-Based Neurotransmitter Sensors for MRI

  • Philip A. RomeroAffiliated withDivision of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology
  • , Mikhail G. ShapiroAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • , Frances H. ArnoldAffiliated withDivision of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology
  • , Alan JasanoffAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyDepartment of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyDepartment of Nuclear Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Abstract

The production of contrast agents sensitive to neuronal signaling events is a rate-limiting step in the development of molecular-level functional magnetic resonance imaging (molecular fMRI) approaches for studying the brain. High-throughput generation and evaluation of potential probes are possible using techniques for macromolecular engineering of protein-based contrast agents. In an initial exploration of this strategy, we used the method of directed evolution to identify mutants of a bacterial heme protein that allowed detection of the neurotransmitter dopamine in vitro and in living animals. The directed evolution method involves successive cycles of mutagenesis and screening that could be generalized to produce contrast agents sensitive to a variety of molecular targets in the nervous system.

Key words

Magnetic resonance imaging Directed evolution Protein engineering Cytochrome P450 Dopamine