Advancements in a FRET Biosensor for Live-Cell Fluorescence-Lifetime High-Throughput Screening of Alpha-Synuclein

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There is a critical need for small molecules capable of rescuing pathophysiological phenotypes induced by alpha-synuclein (aSyn) misfolding and oligomerization. Building upon our previous aSyn cellular fluorescence lifetime (FLT)-Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) biosensors, we have developed an inducible cell model incorporating the red-shifted mCyRFP1/mMaroon1 (OFP/MFP) FRET pair. This new aSyn FRET biosensor improves the signal-to-noise ratio, reduces nonspecific background FRET, and results in a 4-fold increase (transient transfection) and 2-fold increase (stable, inducible cell lines) in FRET signal relative to our previous GFP/RFP aSyn biosensors. The inducible system institutes greater temporal control and scalability, allowing for fine-tuning of biosensor expression and minimizes cellular cytotoxicity due to overexpression of aSyn. Using these inducible aSyn-OFP/MFP biosensors, we screened the Selleck library of 2684 commercially available, FDA-approved compounds and identified proanthocyanidins and casanthranol as novel hits. Secondary assays validated the ability of these compounds to modulate aSyn FLT-FRET. Functional assays probing cellular cytotoxicity and aSyn fibrillization demonstrated their capability to inhibit seeded aSyn fibrillization. Proanthocyanidins completely rescued aSyn fibril-induced cellular toxicity with EC50 of 200 nM and casanthranol supported a 85.5% rescue with a projected EC50 of 34.2 μM. Furthermore, proanthocyanidins provide a valuable tool compound to validate our aSyn biosensor performance in future high-throughput screening campaigns of industrial-scale (million-compound) chemical libraries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASN Neuro
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • alpha-synuclein
  • fibrillization
  • high-throughput screen
  • neurodegeneration
  • time-resolved FRET

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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