Ekaterina M. Merzlyak

Ph.D. (biological sciences)

Research fellow (Group of Structural Organization of T-cell Immunity)

Phone: +7 (499) 724-81-22

Selected publications

  1. Pletnev S., Shcherbo D., Chudakov D.M., Pletneva N., Merzlyak E.M., Wlodawer A., Dauter Z., Pletnev V. (2008). A crystallographic study of bright far-red fluorescent protein mKate reveals pH-induced cis-trans isomerization of the chromophore. J. Biol. Chem. 283 (43), 28980–7 [+]

    The far-red fluorescent protein mKate (lambda(ex), 588 nm; lambda(em), 635 nm; chromophore-forming triad Met(63)-Tyr(64)-Gly(65)), originating from wild-type red fluorescent progenitor eqFP578 (sea anemone Entacmaea quadricolor), is monomeric and characterized by the pronounced pH dependence of fluorescence, relatively high brightness, and high photostability. The protein has been crystallized at a pH ranging from 2 to 9 in three space groups, and four structures have been determined by x-ray crystallography at the resolution of 1.75-2.6 A. The pH-dependent fluorescence of mKate has been shown to be due to reversible cis-trans isomerization of the chromophore phenolic ring. In the non-fluorescent state at pH 2.0, the chromophore of mKate is in the trans-isomeric form. The weakly fluorescent state of the protein at pH 4.2 is characterized by a mixture of trans and cis isomers. The chromophore in a highly fluorescent state at pH 7.0/9.0 adopts the cis form. Three key residues, Ser(143), Leu(174), and Arg(197) residing in the vicinity of the chromophore, have been identified as being primarily responsible for the far-red shift in the spectra. A group of residues consisting of Val(93), Arg(122), Glu(155), Arg(157), Asp(159), His(169), Ile(171), Asn(173), Val(192), Tyr(194), and Val(216), are most likely responsible for the observed monomeric state of the protein in solution.

  2. Shcherbo D., Merzlyak E.M., Chepurnykh T.V., Fradkov A.F., Ermakova G.V., Solovieva E.A., Lukyanov K.A., Bogdanova E.A., Zaraisky A.G., Lukyanov S., Chudakov D.M. (2007). Bright far-red fluorescent protein for whole-body imaging. Nat. Methods 4 (9), 741–6 [+]

    A novel fluorescent protein Katushka with far-red emission preferable for signal registration inside animal tissues was created. Katushka is 10 fold brighter than other far-red proteins and is also characterized with fast maturation, high pH-stability and photostability. This constellation of properties makes it an instrument of choice for in vivo labeling of particular cells within whole organisms. A monomeric variant of Katushka named mKate was introduced for intracellular protein localization studies.

  3. Merzlyak E.M., Goedhart J., Shcherbo D., Bulina M.E., Shcheglov A.S., Fradkov A.F., Gaintzeva A., Lukyanov K.A., Lukyanov S., Gadella T.W., Chudakov D.M. (2007). Bright monomeric red fluorescent protein with an extended fluorescence lifetime. Nat. Methods 4 (7), 555–7 [+]

    Fluorescent proteins have become extremely popular tools for in vivo imaging and especially for the study of localization, motility and interaction of proteins in living cells. Here we report TagRFP, a monomeric red fluorescent protein, which is characterized by high brightness, complete chromophore maturation, prolonged fluorescence lifetime and high pH-stability. These properties make TagRFP an excellent tag for protein localization studies and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) applications.

  4. Evdokimov A.G., Pokross M.E., Egorov N.S., Zaraisky A.G., Yampolsky I.V., Merzlyak E.M., Shkoporov A.N., Sander I., Lukyanov K.A., Chudakov D.M. (2006). Structural basis for the fast maturation of Arthropoda green fluorescent protein. EMBO Rep. 7 (10), 1006–12 [+]

    Since the cloning of Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (GFP) in 1992, a family of known GFP-like proteins has been growing rapidly. Today, it includes more than a hundred proteins with different spectral characteristics cloned from Cnidaria species. For some of these proteins, crystal structures have been solved, showing diversity in chromophore modifications and conformational states. However, we are still far from a complete understanding of the origin, functions and evolution of the GFP family. Novel proteins of the family were recently cloned from evolutionarily distant marine Copepoda species, phylum Arthropoda, demonstrating an extremely rapid generation of fluorescent signal. Here, we have generated a non-aggregating mutant of Copepoda fluorescent protein and solved its high-resolution crystal structure. It was found that the protein beta-barrel contains a pore, leading to the chromophore. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we showed that this feature is critical for the fast maturation of the chromophore.

  5. Bulina M.E., Chudakov D.M., Britanova O.V., Yanushevich Y.G., Staroverov D.B., Chepurnykh T.V., Merzlyak E.M., Shkrob M.A., Lukyanov S., Lukyanov K.A. (2006). A genetically encoded photosensitizer. Nat. Biotechnol. 24 (1), 95–9 [+]

    Photosensitizers are chromophores that generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) upon light irradiation. They are used for inactivation of specific proteins by chromophore-assisted light inactivation (CALI) and for light-induced cell killing in photodynamic therapy. Here we report a genetically encoded photosensitizer, which we call KillerRed, developed from the hydrozoan chromoprotein anm2CP, a homolog of green fluorescent protein (GFP). KillerRed generates ROS upon irradiation with green light. Whereas known photosensitizers must be added to living systems exogenously, KillerRed is fully genetically encoded. We demonstrate the utility of KillerRed for light-induced killing of Escherichia coli and eukaryotic cells and for inactivating fusions to beta-galactosidase and phospholipase Cdelta1 pleckstrin homology domain.