Protein interactions guide most cellular processes. Orthogonal hetero-specific protein–protein interaction domains may facilitate better control of engineered biological systems. Here, we report a tunable de novo designed set of orthogonal coiled-coil (CC) peptide heterodimers (called the NICP set) and its application for the regulation of diverse cellular processes, from cellular localization to transcriptional regulation. We demonstrate the application of CC pairs for multiplex localization in single cells and exploit the interaction strength and variable stoichiometry of CC peptides for tuning of gene transcription strength. A concatenated CC peptide tag (CCC-tag) was used to construct highly potent CRISPR–dCas9-based transcriptional activators and to amplify the response of light and small molecule-inducible transcription in cell culture as well as in vivo. The NICP set and its implementations represent a valuable toolbox of minimally disruptive modules for the recruitment of versatile functional domains and regulation of cellular processes for synthetic biology.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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This research was supported by grants from the Slovenian Research Agency (nos. P4-0176, J1-9173, J3-7034 and N4-0080), ERC grant MaCChines to R.J, Horizon2020 CSA Bioroboost and ERANET project MediSurf. T.L. is partially supported by the UNESCO-L’OREAL national fellowship ‘For Women in Science’. We thank H. Gradišar for providing the sequences of CC peptides and for valuable advice.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Lebar, T., Lainšček, D., Merljak, E. et al. A tunable orthogonal coiled-coil interaction toolbox for engineering mammalian cells. Nat Chem Biol 16, 513–519 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41589-019-0443-y
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