Single-molecule assays of calmodulin target binding detected with a calmodulin energy-transfer construct
. Anal Chem 2004
We have detected single-molecule binding interactions of a target peptide with the calcium-signaling protein calmodulin (CaM) immobilized in an agarose gel, and we have demonstrated the application of a single-molecule binding assay to measure the binding strength of CaM with the CaM-binding domain of calmodulin-dependent protein kinase 11 (CaMKII). The results demonstrate the potential for ultrasensitive assays of CaM-target interactions and the measurement of a picomolar dissociation constant. To detect single-molecule protein interactions, single-molecule assays require that the analyte molecule be confined to the focal spot of the objective for the time scale of the measurement. We demonstrate the deleterious effect of surface immobilization on CaM. As an alternative to surface immobilization, we have constructed a CaM/maltose binding protein fusion protein, which renders CaM translationally immobile in a low weight percent agarose gel. The target binding functionality of CaM assayed in agarose gels is in good agreement with solution assays. The utility of the construct for detecting interactions with CaM targets was demonstrated in a single-molecule assay of binding interactions of MBP-CaM with the CaMKII CaM-binding domain peptide. A value of 103 +/- 35 pM for the dissociation constant of this interaction was determined by simple counting of fluorescent molecules.