Quantitative FRET imaging of leptin receptor oligomerization kinetics in single cells

Eva Biener, Madia Charlier, V. Krishnan Ramanujan, Nathalie Daniel, Avital Eisenberg, Christian Bjørbaek, Brian Herman, Arieh Gertler, Jean Djiane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background Information. Leptin, an adipocyte-secreted hormone, signals through activation of its membrane-embedded receptor (LEPR). To study the leptin-induced events occurring in short (LEPRa) and long (LEPRb) LEPRs in the cell membrane, by FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) methodology, the respective receptors, tagged at their C-terminal with CFP (cyan fluorescent protein) or YFP (yellow fluorescent protein), were prepared. Results. The constructs encoding mLEPRa (mouse LEPRa)-YFP and mLEPRa-CFP, mLEPRb-YFP and mLEPRb-CFP were tested for biological activity in transiently transfected CHO cells (Chinese-hamster ovary cells) and HEK-293T cells (human embryonic kidney 293 T cells) for activation of STAT3 (signal transduction and activators of transcription 3)-mediated LUC (luciferase) activity and binding of radiolabelled leptin. All four constructs were biologically active and were as potent as their untagged counterparts. The localization pattern of the fused protein appeared to be confined almost entirely to the cell membrane. The leptin-dependent interaction between various types of receptors in fixed cells were studied by measuring FRET, using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy and acceptor photobleaching methods. Conclusions. Both methods yielded similar results, indicating that (1) leptin receptors expressed in the cell membrane exist mostly as preformed LEPRa/LEPRa or LEPRb/LEPRb homo-oligomers but not as LEPRb/LEPRa hetero-oligomers; (2) the appearance of transient leptin-induced FRET in cells transfected with LEPRb/LEPRb reflects both a conformational change that leads to closer interaction in the cytosolic part and a higher FRET signal, as well as de novo homo-oligomerization; (3) in LEPRa/LEPRa, exposure to leptin does not lead to any increase in FRET signalling as the proximity of CFP and YFP fluorophores in space already gives maximal FRET efficiency of the preoligomerized receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-919
Number of pages15
JournalBiology of the Cell
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Acceptor photobleaching
  • Conformational change
  • Fluorescent protein
  • Leptin
  • Preoligomerization


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