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Chemical Biology

Photounbinding of Calmodulin from a Family of CaM Binding Peptides
Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Author: Klaus G. Neumüller et al.

by Klaus G. Neumüller, Kareem Elsayad, Johannes M. Reisecker, M. Neal Waxham, Katrin G. Heinze


Recent studies have shown that fluorescently labeled antibodies can be dissociated from their antigen by illumination with laser light. The mechanism responsible for the photounbinding effect, however, remains elusive. Here, we give important insights into the mechanism of photounbinding and show that the effect is not restricted to antibody/antigen binding.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We present studies of the photounbinding of labeled calmodulin (CaM) from a set of CaM-binding peptides with different affinities to CaM after one- and two-photon excitation. We found that the photounbinding effect becomes stronger with increasing binding affinity. Our observation that photounbinding can be influenced by using free radical scavengers, that it does not occur with either unlabeled protein or non-fluorescent quencher dyes, and that it becomes evident shortly after or with photobleaching suggest that photounbinding and photobleaching are closely linked.


The experimental results exclude surface effects, or heating by laser irradiation as potential causes of photounbinding. Our data suggest that free radicals formed through photobleaching may cause a conformational change of the CaM which lowers their binding affinity with the peptide or its respective binding partner.