We have prepared and partially characterized a lissamine-rhodamine B fluorescent analogue of calmodulin, LRB-CM. The analogue had a dye/protein ratio of approximately 1.0 and contained no free dye or contaminating labeled proteins. LRB-CM was indistinguishable from native calmodulin upon SDS PAGE and in assays of phosphodiesterase and myosin light chain kinase. The emission spectrum of LRB-CM was insensitive to changes in pH, ionic strength, and temperature over the physiological range, but the apparent quantum yield was influenced somewhat by divalent cation concentration. LRB-CM injected into living Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts became associated with nitrobenzoxadiazole-phallacidin staining stress fibers in some interphase cells. LRB-CM and acetamidofluorescein-labeled actin co-injected into the same cell both became associated with fibers in some cells, but in most cases association of the two analogues with fibers was mutually exclusive. This suggests that calmodulin may differ from actin in the timing of incorporation into stress fibers or that we have distinguished distinct populations of stress fibers. We were able to detect no direct interaction of LRB-CM with actin by fluorescence photobleaching recovery (FRAP) of aqueous solutions. Interaction of LRB-CM with myosin light chain kinase also was not detected by FRAP. This suggests that the mean lifetime of the calmodulin-myosin light chain kinase complex is too short to affect the diffusion coefficient of calmodulin. We examined various fluorescent derivatives of proteins and dextrans as suitable control molecules for quantitative fluorescent analogue cytochemistry in living cells. Fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextrans were found to be preferable to all the proteins tested, since their mobilities in cytoplasm were inversely dependent on molecular size and there was no evidence of binding to intracellular components. In contrast, FRAP of LRB-CM in the cytoplasm of living 3T3 cells suggested that the analogue interacts with intracellular components with a range of affinities. The mobility of LRB-CM in the cytoplasm was sensitive to treatment of the cells with trifluoperazine, which suggests that at least some of the intracellular binding sites are specific for calmodulin in the calcium-bound form. FRAP of LRB-CM in the nuclei of living 3T3 cells indicated that the analogue was highly mobile within the nucleus but entered the nucleus from the cytoplasm much more slowly than fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran of comparable molecular size and much more slowly than predicted from its mobility in cytoplasm.

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