Droplet-based microfluidics for the genotype-phenotype mapping of model enzymes

Abstract : The question of how sequence encodes proteins' function is essential to understand molecular evolution but still remains elusive.Droplet-based microfluidics allows to use micro-metric droplets as reaction vessels to separately assay enzyme variants at the kHz frequency. It also provides an elegant solution to couple the genotype with the product of the catalytic activity of enzymes. Sorting droplets on demand and sequencing their content enables to map the genotype of millions of enzyme variants to their phenotype in a single experiment.First, I developed a cell-free microfluidic work-flow to carry out genotype-phenotype mapping of Streptomyces griseus aminopeptidase (SGAP). Single enzyme variant genes are encapsulated and amplified in droplets, expressed, and assayed against a fluorogenic substrate. Incompatibilities between gene amplification, expression and assay reactions, constrain to execute each one of those steps successively and to dilute the product of each reaction by droplet electro-coalescence. I show that a work-flow in which (i) genes are encapsulated and amplified into 0.2 pL droplets, (ii) expressed using cell-free expression reagents in 2 pL droplets and (iii) assayed with a fluorogenic substrate in 20 pL droplets, allows to measure SGAP variants activity with high contrast. To optimize the SGAP droplet assay, I also developed in collaboration with Dr. Johan Fenneteau (Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, ESPCI Paristech), a hydrophilic rhodamine based substrate, characterized by limited exchange of the released fluorophore between droplets.Second, I developed an in vivo microfluidic work-flow on Ratus norvegicus trypsin (rat trypsin), in which Bacillus subtilis secretion abilities are used to simplify the microfluidic work-flow. Single B. subtilis cells are encapsulated in 20 pL droplets where they secrete trypsin variants as fusion proteins with a fluorescent expression-level reporter. The variants are assayed by droplet electro-coalescence with 2 pL droplets containing a trypsin fluorogenic substrate. Trypsin variants catalytic efficiency can be directly measured in droplets, by normalizing the total trypsin activity by the expression-level reporter fluorescence. This is the first time a high-throughput protein assay work-flow gives the opportunity to directly measure the catalytic efficiency of enzyme variants at the kHz frequency. A method to carry out saturated mutagenesis on the rat trypsin gene was also developed. Together with deep sequencing, the developed experimental work-flow will allow to perform the first quantitative genotype-phenotype mapping of all single point mutants of the rat trypsin protein
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Dany Chauvin. Droplet-based microfluidics for the genotype-phenotype mapping of model enzymes. Biological Physics [physics.bio-ph]. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017USPCC192⟩. ⟨tel-02165397⟩

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