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Improving a tool that controls interactions between proteins and organelles expands its use in manipulating signaling in the cell.

Light-inducible dimerization protein modules enable precise temporal and spatial control of biological processes in non-invasive fashion. Among them, Magnets are photoreceptors requiring simultaneous photoactivation to interact, enabling high spatiotemporal confinement of dimerization with a single-excitation wavelength. However, Magnets require concatemerization for efficient responses and cell preincubation at 28oC to be functional. We overcame the limitations by structure-guided protein engineering and validation by cellular assays. The resulting reagents, “enhanced Magnets” (eMags), have greater thermal stability and dimerization efficiency, as well as faster association and dissociation kinetics. We confirmed their effectiveness in several applications including protein recruitment to different organelles, the generation/expansion of organelle contact sites, and the rapid and reversible reconstitution of inter-organelle tethers that have key regulatory function in lipid transport.

Source: eLife
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