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Conditional protein splicing is a powerful biotechnological tool that can be used to rapidly and post-translationally control the activity of a given protein. Here we demonstrate a novel conditional splicing system in which a genetically encoded protein scaffold induces the splicing and activation of an enzyme in mammalian cells. In this system the protein scaffold binds to two inactive split intein/enzyme extein protein fragments leading to intein fragment complementation, splicing, and activation of the firefly luciferase enzyme. We first demonstrate the ability of antiparallel coiled-coils (CCs) to mediate splicing between two intein fragments, effectively creating two new split inteins. We then generate and test two versions of the scaffold-induced splicing system using two pairs of CCs. Finally, we optimize the linker lengths of the proteins in the system and demonstrate 13-fold activation of luciferase by the scaffold compared to the activity of negative controls. Our protein scaffold-triggered conditional splicing system is an effective strategy to control enzyme activity using a protein input, enabling enhanced genetic control over protein splicing and the potential creation of splicing-based protein sensors and autoregulatory systems.


Daniel F Selgrade, Jason J Lohmueller, Florian Lienert, Pamela A Silver. Protein scaffold-activated protein trans-splicing in mammalian cells. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2013 May 22;135(20):7713-9

PMID: 23621664

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