Discovery of enzyme modulators via high-throughput time-resolved FRET in living cells

Simon J. Gruber, Razvan L. Cornea, Ji Li, Kurt C. Peterson, Tory M. Schaaf, Gregory D. Gillispie, Russell Dahl, Krisztina M. Zsebo, Seth L. Robia, David D. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


We have used a "two-color" SERCA (sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase) biosensor and a unique high-throughput fluorescence lifetime plate reader (FLT-PR) to develop a high-precision live-cell assay designed to screen for small molecules that perturb SERCA structure. A SERCA construct, in which red fluorescent protein (RFP) was fused to the N terminus and green fluorescent protein (GFP) to an interior loop, was stably expressed in an HEK cell line that grows in monolayer or suspension. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) from GFP to RFP was measured in the FLT-PR, which increases precision 30-fold over intensity-based plate readers without sacrificing throughput. FRET was highly sensitive to known SERCA modulators. We screened a small chemical library and identified 10 compounds that significantly affected two-color SERCA FLT. Three of these compounds reproducibly lowered FRET and inhibited SERCA in a dose-dependent manner. This assay is ready for large-scale HTS campaigns and is adaptable to many other targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomolecular Screening
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by grants to D.D.T. (NIH GM27906, AR57220, AG42996, and MDA218102) and R.L.C. (NIH HL92097). S.J.G. was supported by a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association (Midwest Affiliate 13PRE13230005).


  • FRET
  • HEK
  • SERCA2a
  • enzyme activation
  • screening


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